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Barriers to Getting OCD Help

OCD Help is Available if you Know Where to Look


Updated June 13, 2014

Although effective treatments are available for OCD, research suggests that only about one-third of people actually seek OCD help. Why is that?

There Are Many Barriers to Seeking OCD Help

Studies examining why people don’t often seek OCD help have revealed that there are many challenges or barriers to seeking treatment, specifically:

  • People with OCD often report that they do not know where to seek treatment. Even when they do know where to go, they may not have the financial resources necessary to pay for psychotherapy or other treatments.

  • It is not uncommon for people affected by OCD to put off going to the doctor unless they perceive their OCD symptoms as severe or experience multiple problems in addition to OCD, such as depression or panic disorder.

  • Understandably, people with OCD are often secretive about their problems and may be embarrassed about revealing the content of their obsessions to other people, especially if they have obsessions that deal with sex, violence, aggression or hoarding.

  • People with OCD fear the negative reactions or even rejection of others.

  • Although it is illegal to discriminate against people with mental illness, people struggling with OCD are often worried that their illness will be used against them. For example, being fired is a common fear.

  • For people with OCD who are visible minorities or whose first language isn’t English, visiting a physician or psychologist to discuss treatment options may be too intimidating.

Where Can I Find OCD Help

If you feel you are experiencing symptoms of OCD, your first step should be to make an appointment with your family doctor to discuss treatment options. In addition, there are a number of online resources that help locate the help that you need.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Locating Services: An online tool from the National Institute of Mental Health to help you locate mental health services.

Treatment Providers: An online tool to locate treatment providers specializing in the treatment of OCD from the OCD Foundation.

Support Group Search Tool: An online tool to locate OCD support groups in your area.

OCD Intensive Treatment Programs: A database of comprehensive OCD-intensive treatment programs within North America.


Belloch, A., del Valle, G., Morillo, C., Carrio, C., & Cabedo, E. “To seek advice or not to seek advice about the problem: the help-seeking dilemma for obsessive-compulsive disorder” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2008 (published on-line)

Goodwin, R., Koenen, K.C., Hellman, F., Guardino, M., & Struening, E. “Helpseeking and access to mental health treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder” Acta psychiatrica Scandinavica 2002 106: 143-149.

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