Reviewed by Melinda (Santa) Gladden, LCSW
Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a mental health condition that affects one out of every 40 adults aged 18 and above in the United States and one out of every 100 children in the United States. OCD can be debilitating beyond what many people without the disorder understand. According to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health or NIMH, 50.6% of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder have severe OCD, where 34.8% have moderate OCD, and 14.6% of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder have mild OCD. Despite this, research shows that only about 35-40% of people living with obsessive-compulsive disorder get treatment, and under 10% of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder get evidence-based treatment. Reaching out for support for the first time may seem intimidating, but it does not have to be. There are many ways to find help for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Keep reading to learn more about obsessive-compulsive disorder and how to find professional support and peer support, and other types of support for obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Obsessions and compulsions, as well as a number of other potential symptoms characterize obsessive-compulsive disorder. To be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, your obsessions and compulsions must take up a significant portion of your day, cause significant distress, or affect your ability to function in areas of life such as your social life or interpersonal relationships, work, or school. Signs of OCD include:
- Obsessions and compulsions that take up a significant portion of your day or cause distress
- Intrusive thoughts or mental images
- Social isolation or withdrawal from others
- Repeating words, phrases, or movements
Someone with the obsessive-compulsive disorder will experience fear, anxiety, or distress surrounding one's obsessions. Living with OCD is not easy, but it is important to remember that OCD is a highly treatable and common mental health condition.
Many people do not realize about obsessive-compulsive disorder because it can manifest in many different ways. There are a number of subtypes of OCD, including contamination OCD, symmetry OCD, harm OCD, purely obsessive OCD, relationship OCD, and religious OCD. Here are some examples of ways that common subtypes of OCD could display:
Contamination OCD: Contamination OCD occurs when someone is fixated on preventing contamination. Some examples of how compulsions in contamination OCD could manifest are excessive handwashing or excessive cleaning. It is not just about being tidy or taking general, healthy precautions against disease, though. Remember that to be diagnosed with OCD, your symptoms must take up a significant portion of your day, or they must affect your functioning and daily obligations.
Harm OCD: Harm OCD typically pairs with checking compulsions. A person with harm OCD is often fixated on preventing harm, and/or they may have intrusive thoughts or mental images that make them worry that harm is going to occur and affect himself, herself, or a loved one. An example of how this might manifest is someone checking to make sure that doors are locked so that no one can get it or checking to make sure that appliances are off so that nothing will catch on fire.
Symmetry OCD: Since someone with symmetry OCD is fixated on order, a common example of how compulsions in symmetry OCD might manifest is that a person might arrange objects to ensure that they are "just right."
Purely obsessive OCD: A person with purely obsessive OCD, sometimes-nicknamed "pure O," does not experience visible compulsions but does experience profound obsessions and mental compulsions (as opposed to visible compulsions). An example of mental compulsions would be counted in one's head or repeating phrases. Even though you cannot see it, this affects a person's life and may affect their abilities to engage in social activities, work obligations, school, or any other important areas of life.
Remember that obsessive-compulsive disorder can take many other forms, such as religious OCD, relationship OCD, and sexuality OCD. If you notice symptoms of OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder in yourself, and especially if obsessions and compulsions are affecting your life or functioning significantly, make sure to reach out to a medical or mental health provider.
How to Find OCD Help near You
Here are some popular types of support for OCD and how to find these forms of support.
Therapists and Counselors
There are many different ways you can go about finding a therapist or counselor - with or without insurance. Here are some potential ways to go about finding a therapist or counselor:
- Conduct an online search for "OCD counselors near me" or "OCD therapists near me" using your search engine of choice.
- See a general doctor or primary care provider and ask for a referral to a counselor or therapist who works with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Contact your insurance company and see what they cover regarding therapists or counselors who work with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some insurance companies also have a tool on their website to help you find a provider near you, such as united healthcare.
- Use an online mental health provider directory or search tool such as the one on the Mind Diagnostics website's upper right-hand corner. Use the provider search tool on the Mind Diagnostics website; simply type in your zip code and click the magnifying glass or press enter your keyboard.
- Try an online therapy or counseling company, such as Better Help. Online counseling does not require insurance, and it is often more affordable than traditional in-person therapy is without insurance.
- If you are low income, know your options. Medicaid often covers several therapy sessions free. You can also get free or low-cost services from community centers or local organizations, religious organizations, and educational institutions. Many providers offer sliding scale rates, but you are not alone if you cannot pay anything. Do not be afraid to ask about your options. If you are in the US, consider calling 211 to see if they have information about services near you.
Some people choose to see a psychiatrist in conjunction with a therapist or counselor. Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT and exposure and response prevention therapy or ERP, derived from CBT, are two of the most commonly used evidence-based forms of treatment used for obsessive-compulsive disorder. For all information regarding specific treatments, speak to a medical or mental health professional.
Support groups are not a replacement for medical or mental health treatment and are not the same as group therapy. The benefit of support groups is that they offer a sense of community and understanding. Many people learn about resources through support groups and similar resources, too. To find a support group near you, search for "OCD support group near me" or use a resource finder like the one on the International OCD Foundation or IOCDF website. In some cases, if you contact a provider who specialized in working with an obsessive-compulsive disorder or who works with obsessive-compulsive disorder, they may also have a recommendation or a list of recommendations for support groups in your area.
While online forums do not operate in person, they are an excellent place to find a sense of community. You can find online forums on several websites. Here are some popular forums for those with an obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD:
The My OCD Community Forum
The My OCD Community forum was launched in 2018 and is a partnership between the IOCDF and International OCD Foundation Health Unlocked. The forum appears on the Health Unlocked website. On the My OCD Community forum, you will find posts about a variety of different subjects. Both loved ones of those with OCD and people living with OCD can utilize this forum. Access the My OCD Community forum by clicking the following link or copying and pasting the following link into your browser: https://healthunlocked.com/my-ocd.
The Mentalhealthforum.net Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Forum
Mentalhealthforum.net is a website with various forums for people living with various mental health conditions, including forums for people living with bipolar disorder, depressive disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, and many other concerns or conditions. Access the obsessive-compulsive disorder forum on mentalhealthforum.net by clicking the following link or copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://www.mentalhealthforum.net/forum/forums/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd-forum.46/.
The Psychforums.com Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Forum
Similar to mentalhealthforum.net, psychforums.com is a website that has a variety of mental health forums for those living with various conditions or concerns, including but not limited to anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and OCD. Access the obsessive-compulsive disorder forum on psychforums.com by clicking the following link or copy and paste it into your browser:
In addition to these methods of support, some people choose to purchase books or read about OCD online to learn more about obsessive-compulsive disorder and self-help techniques and OCD treatment as a supplement to support from a mental health professional. Again, remember that you must see a professional for individual medical or mental health advice. Everyone with OCD is different, and your treatment will be unique to you.
Take the Mind Diagnostics Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Test
After learning more about obsessive-compulsive disorder, are you wondering if you could have OCD? If so, consider taking the Mind Diagnostics obsessive-compulsive disorder test. The Mind Diagnostics obsessive-compulsive disorder test is not a replacement for an evaluation or diagnosis from a medical or mental health professional, but taking the test can give your insight into your symptoms. It might just be the first step to getting the help that you need. The Mind Diagnostics obsessive-compulsive disorder test is fast, free, and confidential. Your results will be sent to you via email directly after taking the test and type in your email address. Although OCD can affect people of all ages, the Mind Diagnostics obsessive-compulsive disorder test is for those aged 18 and above.
To access the Mind Diagnostics obsessive-compulsive disorder test, click the following link or copy and paste it into your browser: https://www.mind-diagnostics.org/ocd-test.