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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    I have severe OCD and anxiety, how bad will my kids be affected?

    I grew up pretty depressed with the view that this world is a scary place. I've always had problems concentrating and knowing when to do things at an appropriate time. My mental health is severe enough to be encouraged to stay in hospital for thorough treatment. But I can't leave my kids while I'm away on treatment. They are very young and need me all the time.

    I know I should improve my symptom now so I can take better care of them but I've always been on/off OCD treatment in the past because I can't really focus on getting to the end. I'm the type who procrastinates, runs away from things, never finish things, always late, etc…I can't really focus. After having kids, my concentration skill is now ten times worse.

    But having kids opened me to a newer perspective in life. I am always talking positive things to my kids every moment; I give them my full attention and treat them with respect,etc.. I

    s this enough to override my severe illness or will they be modelling what I do?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1




    Anthony Berrick


    I really feel for you. OCD treatment can be incredibly challenging so I don't blame you for not seeing it through in the past. However, it sounds like you're very motivated to do what's best for your kids.

    It would be fantastic if you could find a psychologist who could help you understand how your OCD can affect your behaviour around your kids, and what to do to make sure it doesn't impact on them negatively - rather than just focusing on treating your OCD on its own.

    That way, your kids would benefit by not experiencing any negative consequences of your OCD, and you would benefit by feeling more fulfilled as a parent, and probably experiencing an improvement in your OCD symptoms while you're at it. Wouldn't that be a great result for all of you?

  • lookingforanswers

    HealthShare Member

    Yes, this sounds like a great idea, especially as my oldest is 4 years old and is starting to ask why I check all the time.  Yesterday, she woke me up with 2 incidents: one is comparing me with other mums who don't check and another is getting angry that I had to check excessively before leaving some play area.  I'm really worried for her because she still seem to have a problem with expressing her feelings and getting stuck.  She seem to have and anger problem.  I don't know if it's her own personality or that I have fully effected her with my constant fear & worry.  The reality is my whole life, I've only known to live in a state of fear and worry and not know how to live normally.  I can only do my best so that my kids are not too effected. 

    At the moment I find it very difficult to commit to seeing a specialist on a regular basis because I'm slow to do things due to the illness and also because of having kids.  I tend to put all their daily activities for development growth before my own health and find it hard to concentrate even if I start any treatment.  I know I desperately need help but I don't how to stay for the long road to recovery. Currently, I feel like I'm all over the place and am just working off adrenaline.

  • Anthony Berrick


    It sounds like you're in two minds. You want things to change, but you feel overwhelmed enough as it is, so the thought of taking on something new is very daunting.

    Why not just have a one-off consultation with a psychologist to discuss how your OCD might be affecting your parenting and see if you find it beneficial? You can always go back for more sessions if it seems helpful, or not if it doesn't.

    You said "I tend to put all their daily activities for development growth before my own health", but is it really the case that you have to choose between your children's wellbeing and your own? I would suggest that seeking professional help for your OCD in relation to your parenting goals would help you AND the kids to be happier.

    If you're in Sydney, feel free to get in contact with me, otherwise you can search for a psychologist who specialises in OCD/anxiety near where you live here:

    Also, if you get a referral from your GP you can claim a Medicare rebate for up to 10 sessions per calendar year.

  • 2


    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    I agree with what Anthony wrote.

    I am a volunteer administrator of a world-wide forum which supports people who live with mental illness.

    Members of the forum with OCD have commented that sometimes medication can be effective but in particular what is called Exposure and Response Prevention (it is an aspect of the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approach) is often highly effective.

    There is more on this here: .

    As Anthony suggested, working with a psychologist who has experience of helping clients with OCD is a great plan.

    All the best.


  • 2


    Renee Mill

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Empowering people is my passion and life work. I have been working as a Clinical Psychologist in private practice for over thirty years. I have … View Profile


    OCD is very hard to live with and difficult to treat. It is important that you find a psychologist who specialises in OCD who can help you. They will be able to help you with your depression as well.

    What I would like to focus on is the impact on your kids. This is a common worry that parents with mental illness face. The truth is, how much it will impact your kids is hard to  answer.

    The manner in which mental illness is passed  down is still in question - "nature or nurture" ? Each of your children has their own genetic makeup which will be influenced in a different way. Birth order, gender, what else is going on in the family and other support systems all play a role.

    My recommendation is that you receive treatment for your mental illness and you continue to be the best mother you can. Get good parenting advice and let go of worrying about the future. It is not in your control and will only increase your anxiety.  

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