In some cases, people become very knowledgeable about OCD and understand that effective treatment is available. But they still don’t commit to treatment and therefore do not get relief from OCD. This can be extremely frustrating for loved ones who want to see a family member, friend or someone they care about recover from this disorder. And it can be all the more distressing for the person with OCD.
People who suffer from OCD sometimes find it extremely difficult to begin treatment or commit to treatment. Understanding some of the reasons why people avoid recovery can be a first step toward overcoming this obstacle:
- Comfort with OCD: Rituals – whether they are observable or performed mentally – have become so familiar that they seem like a “normal” part of life.
- Fear of Change: Some people with OCD are afraid to begin treatment because they feel a sense of safety and control over their symptoms with their current coping mechanisms. Control may be very difficult to give up.
- Being unable to imagine life without OCD: Life without rituals seems too good to be true, or impossible to achieve.
- Family members enabling OCD: In many cases, family members accommodate OCD rituals. In other words, they participate in rituals to help their loved one cope with their distress. In fact, some people with OCD manipulate family members into participating in their rituals by claiming that the OCD will be worse if the family doesn’t take part in the rituals. When family members do participate, they are essentially enabling OCD behavior.
- Fears related to treatment: The individual with OCD has fears about medication and its possible side effects or has fears of increased anxiety during treatment (e.g., the temporary increases in anxiety associated with CBT).
- Obsessing about the “perfect” treatment: The person with OCD gets “stuck” in a ritual of searching for the perfect treatment program or treatment provider and never actually begins treatment.
Although it can feel risky or uncomfortable to start a treatment program, treatment can never be worse than the distress caused by untreated OCD.