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You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Describe your obsessive or compulsive behavior to your doctor. Also, tell him if these problems interfere with your daily activities.

In addition, you may want to ask the following questions:

  • Could I have a different illness? Can I have a checkup to be sure?
  • Have you treated other people with OCD? If not, can you recommend someone who has?
  • What treatments are available for OCD?
  • If I take medicine:
    • How long will it take to work?
    • What benefits can I expect?
    • What side effects should I look for?
  • Should I try counseling, as well? What type do you recommend?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary therapies I should try?

If you decide to try counseling, interview counselors to find one with whom you feel comfortable discussing your problems. Some questions to ask are:

  • What is your training and experience in treating OCD?
  • What is your basic approach to treatment?
  • How long does treatment last?
  • What is the length and frequency of treatment sessions?
  • What health insurance is accepted?
  • What lifestyle changes can help me reduce my anxiety and stress symptoms? Including:
    • Diet
    • Relaxation and stress management techniques
    • Exercise
  • How best do I implement these changes?
  • What are my chances of recovering from OCD both with and without treatment?
  • How often does OCD recur? What can I do to prevent a recurrence?
References:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Anxiety Disorders Association of America website. Available at: http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/symptoms. Accessed September 8, 2008.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml. April 2008. Accessed September 8, 2008.

Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.