Living with parents with obsessive–compulsive disorder: Children's lives and experiences

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Background.It has been well documented that parental mental health problems can lead to adverse consequences for their children. However, few studies have examined the subjective experiences of these children. Several parental mental health problems have been studied, but obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) has primarily been considered in relation to adult relatives of the sufferer only.Aims.This study aimed to explore the experiences of young people with a parent with OCD, including the impact of parental OCD and their understanding of it.Method.Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten 13- to 19-year-olds with a parent with OCD. The data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis.Results.Five themes were identified: ‘Control and boundaries’; ‘Doing what I can to help’; ‘Telling: embarrassment and pride’; ‘Do I have OCD?’; and ‘Getting the right help for me’.Conclusions.Parental OCD presented challenges to participants and placed burden upon them, for which they did not receive adequate support. The issues raised by parental OCD seemed similar to other parental mental health problems, but the results suggested that the child's developmental stage may be a significant influence.

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