Obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD treatment and therapy from NOCD

5 Questions To Ask if You’re Unsure Whether You Need Therapy For OCD

7 min read
Stacy Quick, LPC

How do you know you need treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)? Sometimes, people just aren’t sure. There are many potential reasons why someone might feel unsure about whether or not treatment is necessary for them.

For one, their uncertainty could stem from a misunderstanding of OCD. The symptoms someone is experiencing may not match their idea of what OCD is, causing them to doubt that they could have it. These doubts are commonplace in the OCD community. And even if a person is aware that they have OCD, they may not consider their symptoms “severe” enough to require treatment. As a result, they may dismiss the idea that they could be suffering.

Whatever your personal reasons are for being unsure if you need therapy for OCD, asking yourself these questions may help you determine if you could benefit from seeking treatment.

Please note that these questions are not a diagnostic tool. Only a trained medical professional, such as a doctor or mental health professional, can help you determine the best next steps based on your needs.

1. Are my symptoms interfering with my daily life?

This is a key component of any mental health diagnosis. Think about how things are going at home, at work, and in your relationships with friends and family members. Do you feel like you’re able to do the things you need to do? Are your relationships being impacted?

If unwanted intrusive thoughts, images, or urges are causing you anxiety or distress; if compulsions are taking you away from things you’d rather be doing; or if your thoughts and behaviors are creating strain in your relationships, it’s likely that symptoms of OCD are interfering with your daily life.

If you aren’t sure how to answer this question, consider revisiting it after you reflect on the following questions. While it’s possible to experience symptoms of OCD without feeling like you’re consumed by the disorder, or to be in a place where you feel capable of coping with periodic episodes, therapy may still be beneficial in these scenarios.

2. Are my symptoms time-consuming?

Are you spending an excessive amount of time performing physical or mental compulsions, being lost in intrusive thoughts, or suffering from anxiety and distress? Anything over 1 hour per day is considered time-consuming.

Here are a couple follow-up questions that might help you answer this one: Is there time in your days that seems to just disappear? Do you find yourself avoiding certain activities that you would normally do if you didn’t have OCD?

Do these experiences sound familiar?

We know how overwhelming OCD symptoms can feel. You’re not on your own, and you can talk to a specialist who has experience treating OCD.

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3. Is my life being guided by my values or my fears?

This is a question that should be revisited regularly. Even if you’ve already been through any amount of treatment for OCD, it can still serve as a helpful check-in.

You may wonder, “How do I know if I’m living life in a way that supports my values or my fears?” Well, are you stepping out of your comfort zone and moving towards the things that are important to you? Are your values helping you navigate life with OCD?

Or do you feel like you’re going through the motions, doing what you need to but just getting by? If that’s the case, you might be making choices based on what OCD wants, not what you want or value. If you feel like you’re living in survival mode, it’s time to consider a change.

4. Do I imagine life feeling different, or dream about being free from the grasp of OCD?

Many of us have dreams for the future, or hopes for how our lives will turn out. We might want to achieve certain things or have plans to pursue a particular path. Sadly, OCD can sometimes place roadblocks and derail the pursuit of our hopes and dreams for a time.

If you find yourself wishing that your life could feel different, or imagining a time when things feel easier to manage, these feelings may point to a need for treatment. While OCD is known to be chronic, with proper treatment, it can become extremely manageable for many people. It’s possible to live a life where OCD isn’t controlling your every move.

5. Am I ready to experience temporary discomfort to feel better in the long run?

This can be one of the hardest questions to answer, especially when you’re in the midst of the pain and suffering that OCD can cause. While most people don’t welcome the idea of experiencing anxiety and distress, people with OCD may find this idea especially uncomfortable to consider.

The real question is, are you willing to try something different? Are you willing to step outside of what may be a comfortable but unhelpful pattern of behaviors that OCD causes? A follow-up question that may help guide your thinking is, “What would it take to get me to the point where I’m willing to face my fears?” Are you willing to expose yourself to potentially triggering things?

As you think about this, I want to stress that a specialty-trained, qualified, and licensed OCD specialist, like the therapists at NOCD, will never ask you to do things in treatment that go against your values or cause you or others harm, nor will they ever force you to do anything that you are unwilling to do.

Instead, a successful ERP therapist will guide, support, and motivate you. They will come up with reasonable and creative ways for you to gradually face the fears that are holding you back from living the life that you want to live.

I also want to mention that even if you have managed symptoms for a long period of time, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a tune-up may not be needed. Many people with OCD can benefit from a periodic check-in and refreshing their knowledge of the most effective ways to manage their symptoms.

Sometimes, people may feel a sense of shame or guilt at the thought of re-entering therapy, but the truth is that everyone struggles from time to time. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Taking the next step

If you’ve answered any of these questions with a “yes,” treatment could be extremely beneficial for you. I would encourage you to look into and consider exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy.

ERP is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that was developed specifically to treat OCD. It’s designed to break the cycle of obsessions and compulsions, helping OCD lose its power over time, and decades of clinical research have shown it to be the most effective treatment.

I know from personal experience that ERP therapy can be life-altering, whether it’s your first time in treatment or your tenth. Any time you seek treatment, you can learn new tools and tricks to help you manage the symptoms you’re experiencing.

At NOCD, all therapists specialize in OCD and receive ERP-specific training from some of the top OCD experts and researchers in the world. They’ll create a personalized treatment plan and help you learn ways to manage your OCD symptoms in the long term.

In ERP with NOCD, your therapist will help you understand how OCD operates and how ERP works to manage it. When practiced regularly, ERP can help you learn that OCD’s anxiety and distress are false alarms, and that these uncomfortable feelings will eventually pass without you needing to do anything.

To prevent cost from being a barrier to accessing treatment, NOCD offers affordable options and partners with many insurance plans. You can learn more about NOCD Therapy by scheduling a free call with our team.

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NOCD Therapists specialize in treating OCD

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Taylor Newendorp

Taylor Newendorp

Network Clinical Training Director

I started as a therapist over 14 years ago, working in different mental health environments. Many people with OCD that weren't being treated for it crossed my path and weren't getting better. I decided that I wanted to help people with OCD, so I became an OCD therapist, and eventually, a clinical supervisor. I treated people using Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and saw people get better day in and day out. I continue to use ERP because nothing is more effective in treating OCD.

Gary Vandalfsen

Gary Vandalfsen

Licensed Therapist, Psychologist

I’ve been practicing as a licensed therapist for over twenty five years. My main area of focus is OCD with specialized training in Exposure and Response Prevention therapy. I use ERP to treat people with all types of OCD themes, including aggressive, taboo, and a range of other unique types.

Madina Alam

Madina Alam

Director of Therapist Engagement

When I started treating OCD, I quickly realized how much this type of work means to me because I had to learn how to be okay with discomfort and uncertainty myself. I’ve been practicing as a licensed therapist since 2016. My graduate work is in mental health counseling, and I use Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy because it’s the gold standard of OCD treatment.

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