Preparing for your appointment

You may start by seeing your primary doctor. Because obsessive-compulsive disorder often requires specialized care, you may be referred to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, for evaluation and treatment.

What you can do

To prepare for your appointment, think about your needs and goals for treatment. Make a list of:

  • Any symptoms you've noticed, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment
  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes
  • All medications, vitamins, herbal remedies or other supplements, as well as the doses
  • Questions you'd like to ask to make the most of your appointment time

Questions to ask might include:

  • Do you think I have OCD?
  • How do you treat OCD?
  • How can treatment help me?
  • Are there medications that might help?
  • Will exposure and response prevention therapy help?
  • How long will treatment take?
  • What can I do to help myself?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have?
  • Can you recommend any websites?

Don't hesitate to ask any other questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • Do certain thoughts go through your mind over and over despite your attempts to ignore them?
  • Do you have to have things arranged in a certain way?
  • Do you have to wash your hands, count things or check things over and over?
  • When did your symptoms start?
  • Have symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve the symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen the symptoms?
  • How do the symptoms affect your daily life?
  • In a typical day, how much time do you spend on obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior?
  • Have any of your relatives had a mental illness?
  • Have you experienced any trauma or major stress?