Seek online support and teletherapy

To limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19, many therapists have stopped offering in-person sessions. However, instead, people may be able to access teletherapy online or over the phone.

ResearchersTrusted Source have found that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective for people with OCD, and it allows more people to access help.

Online support groups, such as the International OCD Foundation’s My OCD Community, may also help people cope with OCD during a pandemic.

Try CBT self-help

CBT is a first-line treatment for OCD. However, many people do not have access to it, either online or offline. People may have even more limited access during nationwide lockdowns, as not all insurance companies will cover telehealth services.

ResearchersTrusted Source have confirmed that online CBT learning programs can be an effective treatment option for OCD, allowing people to learn CBT techniques even if they cannot talk to a therapist.

Many free or low cost self-help online resources and books can help people learn CBT strategies at home. However, people should consult their doctor to ensure that these resources are reliable.

Practice self-compassion

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused fear and stress for many people, including those who did not have a preexisting mental health condition.

Some experts say that people with OCD may feel better if they remind themselves that it is normal to worry, and that it is not their fault if their OCD symptoms get worse.

It is a good idea to be mindful of any worsening OCD-related thoughts and behaviors, and to consult a doctor or therapist if this occurs. Taking care of oneself can help people focus more on what they can control and less on the pandemic.

Many therapists also recommend that people with anxiety continue to socialize with their family and friends. Physical distancing can make socializing difficult, but using video chat software can help prevent feelings of isolation.

When to seek help

Pandemics do not only have biological or medical implications. They also impact many people psychologically and socially, including those with mental health conditions.

During a pandemic, people with preexisting mental health conditions are at higher riskTrusted Source of experiencing a relapse, stopping their medication, not engaging in self-care, or having suicidal thoughts.

If a person with OCD is struggling with their symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, they should call:

  • their doctor or therapist
  • a mental health helpline
  • their local public health center

Summary

People around the world feel anxious because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is particularly the case for people with OCD.

Although fears about illness might be justified during a pandemic, a person with OCD may take extreme measures to protect themselves and their family.

Checking in with a therapist, setting sensible limits, and staying in touch with friends by phone or video chat may help people with OCD cope with their symptoms.

 

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