How to Cope with OCD During the COVID-19 Pandemic


People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) experience persistent or recurring thoughts that are disturbing and cause anxiety.

They may try to cope with these intrusive thoughts through compulsions, and it is these repetitive behaviours or mental acts that a person feels they must perform.

Some aspects of COVID-19 may trigger anxiety and repetitive behaviour for people with OCD, such as frequent hand-washing, worrying about harming others, hoarding and repeatedly checking the news.

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Nationwide lockdowns may also make people with OCD feel more stressed in general, which can make it more difficult to cope with the symptoms.

Many therapists suggest that people with OCD set a safety plan for themselves based on official public health guidelines. By following the plan, people with OCD will know if they are taking reasonable steps.

Therapists also encourage people to think consciously about their cleaning and hygiene practices. If a person did not go outside and no one came into their home, they did not need to disinfect anything. Disinfecting commonly used surfaces once per day is a reasonable plan.

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They can also try limiting hand-washing to 20-seconds each time and only wash them after going outside, before eating, after going to the bathroom, after coughing, sneezing or blowing the nose.

Other coping methods can include limiting news and social media to avoid excessive news checking, seeking online support and teletherapy, use self-help online resources and books to learn Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) strategies at home, and practice self-compassion.

If a person with OCD adds extra steps to their plan and finds it difficult to stop, they should consider seeking external support to cope with their symptoms.

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Author: Jessica Caporuscio, Pharm.D.
Medically Reviewed: Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP
Publication: Medical News Today
Title: How to cope with OCD during the COVID-19 pandemic

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