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helping adult son suffering OCD

Community Member

Hi, My wife and i are out our wits end in coping with our son who suffers with OCD.Its been going on now for around 18 months and is showing no signs of easing. At the very beginning he was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with OCD and anxiety.

He will phone 30 or 40 times a day, crying, saying he cant cope with the thoughts. He cant seem to get any help from medical professionals and has had multiple visits to different hopitals. He moved out of his own home based on medical advice, but nothing changed, and he still has the same fears of hurting those he loves. We dont really know where to go, or who to turn to to try to get him further help We have spoken to both his psychologist and the hospitals at different times and the say it is all up to him, but he tells us he tries to use the strategies offered, but the thoughts overpower it, and he just goes to the hospital again. recently is was so bad he actually ran out of petrol left his car on the side of the road and walked to a hospital.

To date he has never hurt anyone or acted on his thoughts, which seems to be why the hospitals just turn him away.

What can we do as parents, to try to help him understand that all these professionals cant be wrong, and he is not a danger to anyone.


11 Replies 11

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Sophie M

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi icarus666,

Wellcome to our forums.

I’m so sorry that your son is experiencing OCD I understand how difficult it is to deal with.

I have a lived experience of severe anxiety OCD, the thoughts that I had really distressed me they were unrelenting at times.

My anxiety was very severe due to the OCD intrusive thoughts, I was stuck in a vicious OCD cycle it really was horrible and I wouldn’t have wished it upon anyone.

I have now made a full recovery from OCD thanks to the health professionals who helped me .

I did a therapy for my OCD it was an intervention into the OCD I did it at a clinic that specialised in OCD.

I also seeked reassurance I learned that this was part of my OCD cycle I was doing this as a compulsion to try to bring down my anxiety.

If I can recover then there is hope that your son can aswell.

Please ask me anything

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello icarus666

I understand the pain your son is experiencing as I used to have chronic anxiety for a few decades

Only if its okay, can I ask how severe your sons' anxiety symptoms are as the severity of his symptoms will have an affect on his OCD

If I was in your situation as per your post I would be at my wits end too...

You are doing everything you possibly can icarus666....This is only a suggestion if thats okay.....If I was a parent in a similar situation I would be taking a screenshot of this thread and hand it over to the best GP you know and let them read it. Even if you make a double appointment you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by doing so

A quality GP has a better understanding of OCD/anxiety nowadays than they did in the 1980's

we are listening....


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Icarus, I'm really sorry you have to cope with your son's OCD, as I am also sad your son has it, and for someone with this illness, it's so hard to try and explain to someone who doesn't suffer what it actually means, because to them it's just not reasonable.

To try and explain why we have these thoughts, (I also suffer with OCD), is impossible, unless you are trained in dealing with this because people can't understand why we have these obsessions/coimpulsions.

These thoughts your son is having are called intrusive thoughts, which make us think about doing something we would never even consider doing, that's the strength they have, and that's why they are disturbing, but what I have discovered is that never happen, that's what a person has to believe, however, it doesn't happen that quickly, as I have found out.

I've had OCD for a long time, but have been hiding everything so people don't know but have been at peace with myself for a long time.

Anxiety is the prominent cause of this illness and medication can help, but everyone is different, plus I have someone very close to me whoalso suffers from it and does not take any medication, they also hide it but has immensely improved over the years.

The psychologists and the hospitals who tell him 'it's up to him' need to understand that they need to help him, rather than push him away.

If he can google 'intrusive thoughts', then he will know that other poeople do also have these, and if you can please get back to us to continue this, that would be great.


Community Member
Thank you all for the responses, I think what we are really trying to work out is how do we as parents, help him understand that it is just thoughts and he needs to try and use some of the strategies that they have told him to use. Thats really our problem we just cant get through to him, he is on numerous medications and they have changed them numerous times, but they dont seem to do anything accept make him eat, and he has put on over 30kgs, which doesnt help. our other concern is that he is known to doctor shop and could well be taking a concoction of his own presicption drugs so in effect is also self medicating as well.

Community Champion
Community Champion

That's ok icarus666 happy to help you.

As someone who has experienced severe anxiety OCD I am able to provide you with some insight.

When I was in the grips of this condition people would try to say to me they are just thoughts......

With severe anxiety OCD what follows these intrusive thoughts is extreme debilitating anxiety and all of the what if s thoughts that accompany it.... to me my thoughts where very scary to experience because of their nature and the anxiety made them feel very real, I just wanted them to stop they where on repeat and unrelenting.

People with OCD also have a vicious cycle that accompanies this condition.

Your son needs to become aware of what his vicious OCD is and what's keeping him in this cycle.

Has your son ever been taught what this cycle is? Its something that we do not just know we need to be taught it.

In my therapy I was taught alot of skills and strategies, my turning point in recovering from OCD was realising that I wasn't my thoughts at all but the watcher of my thoughts. I learned this through meditation which was part of my therapy.

Is your son currently doing any type of therapy for his OCD, I believe medication and therapy go hand in hand I wouldn't have been able to recover from my condition without both.

I believe a specalised therapy is required for OCD, has your son ever done any type of therapy for OCD as an intervention?

OCD is a really hard condition to go through but you really can learn to manage it.

I'm sorry that your son has dr shopped this is concerning I understand he just wants to feel calm but the way to do this is through appropriate medication and therapy.

Therapy is a big one, I did a group therapy there were other people in my group who had the same condition as me and we where all heading for the same goal.

When your son has the inital intrusive thought ask him to redirect his attention onto something in the present moment and not on the thought.

Ask him to practice mindfulness and attention training

It all takes practice and perseverance to master OCD and your son needs to be determined to want to live a life where OCD doesn't dictate to him how to live it if he can be determined to want this and then receive the correct professional help it really is possible that he can learn to manage it.

Please let your son know that's he's not alone and recovery is possible.

Community Member

Thanks Petal22

not really sure what you mean by his " vicious cycle" if you could expand on that it would be great.

today, he again went to the hospital but this time, asked to be reassessed under "ryans rule" as he is not getting any better. He was able to see a senior psychologist, who although he agreed with the original diagnosis of OCD and anxiety, has also said that he is suffering with emotionally unstable BPD  He has also doubled his doseage of medication, and said they will have a meeting on monday to reassess his medication and to change his CBT as it is not working for him. Hopefully something develops out of this. his doctor shopping is over as well, as he admitted to going to someone for extra medication and the hospital is contacting that doctor.

Community Champion
Community Champion

That's ok icarus66.'s

I'm sorry to hear of your sons BPD but with the diagnosis I hope the health professionals can help more.

I must applaud your son for keep going back to the hospital, I really hope he finds his path that will take him forward into recovery.

It can be a long and slow process but please tell him to hang in there because things will begin to fall into place once he's on the correct path.... just never loose hope.

OCD is a vicious cycle this cycle can be unrelenting and the sufferer repeats it over and over again until they can learn the appropriate skills to break free of it..... and oh yes! You can learn to break free of the vicious cycle of OCD you don't need to remain in the grips of this unrelenting cycle.

With OCD and its vicious cycle the more further along the cycle you get the more your anxiety increases sometimes to severe levels but if you learn how to break free of the cycle in early stages your anxiety levels will dramatically drop but for the sufferer to be able to do this they need to learn what their OCD cycle is and then how to disengage from it.

The vicious cycle of OCD

First the sufferer has the initial intrusive thought then we experience symptoms eg.. feelings fearful, anxious, shame/disgust

Thought - action fusion "might happen"

Thought-moral fusion " morals" eg.. means im a monster

Attention - " we then give our attention to the thought and ruminate on it

Efforts to control - reassurance seeking, checking memories, avoidance, washing

Stop signals - Anxiety something else comes up

Then this cycle repeats and so on.......

In therapy we can learn to recognise the early signs that we are getting caught up in this vicious cycle and then disengage from it in the early stages with the skills we have been taught in therapy.

The therapy I did was amazing it was metacognitive therapy it was an 8 week intervention and the results where absolutely amazing.

It takes time and practice to learn what we have been taught in therapy but it is well worth it.

Has your son ever tried a therapy specifically for OCD?

You sound like very caring parents and you will find the correct track for your son, once you find the correct health professionals (like I had) then your journey will begin to move forward.

I've written a thread called 'Treatment for OCD Metacognitive Therapy" please type this into your search bar and have a read.

Please know I'm here and if you ever have any questions I'm here to help.

thanks again to all you have replied, every little bit helps us to better understand, and hopefully be more able to support. We are going to see how things pan out over the next week or 2 and also look at some possible extra support, and try and locate someone external to the hospital who specializes in this area.