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Six Reasons for Not Treating Your Anxiety or OCD

anxious manYou read blogs all of the time exhorting you to get treatment for anxiety, OCD, and other emotional problems. But have you heeded that advice and gotten treatment? For many people, the answer is that they haven’t.

You might wonder why that would be the case. After all, if you have a problem, you should venture out and do something about it, right?

I’d like to suggest that if you’ve had significant problems with anxiety or OCD, yet avoided getting treatment for years, you’ve probably done so for some pretty good reasons. And it makes more sense to take a look at your reasons for not seeking treatment than to beat yourself up for not having done something about your problem. There are six major reasons or beliefs we’ve heard people give for avoiding treatment. See if any of these apply to you:

  1. I fear trying to tackle my problems and not making progress. If that happened I’d feel worse than if I’d done nothing at all—in fact, I’d feel like a complete failure.
  2. I know that you can’t really change feelings. They are what they are. You’re just fooling yourself if you think you can actually do something about them.
  3. I wouldn’t know who I was if it weren’t for my OCD or my anxiety. They define who I am.
  4. People never really change. I’ve been this way my whole life; if I haven’t changed by now, I probably never will.
  5. My anxiety feels too overwhelming to do anything about it. I’ve heard that treatment make you feel anxious. It’s safer to just let things stay as they are.
  6. I’m too busy to go to treatment. Therapy takes time and that’s something I simply don’t have.


So does one or more of these beliefs explain why you’ve avoided treatment? Perhaps you can come up with other reasons—expense, hassle, whatever. I recommend that you write all of the reasons you have for avoiding treatment down.  Take a good hard look at them. You likely haven’t been staying away from treatment just out of laziness. Rather, you’ve had some pretty powerful reasons for staying stuck.

What you ask? Am I actually going to tell you to just live with your problems and not do anything about them? Au contraire. Treatment is usually a very good idea if anxiety or OCD are significantly interfering with your life. But you’re not likely to do anything about your problems until you’ve taken a close look at the reasons you’ve been delaying taking action.

Once you know what those reasons are, you can do something about them. Stay tuned. Our next blog gives you advice on that topic.

Anxious man photo available from Shutterstock.

Six Reasons for Not Treating Your Anxiety or OCD

Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D.

Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and a Founding Fellow in the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. He is also a member of the faculty at Fielding Graduate University. He specializes in the treatment of adolescents and adults with obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, anger, depression, and personality disorders. Dr. Elliott is coauthor of: Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies (2nd Ed), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder For Dummies, Seasonal Affective Disorder For Dummies, Anxiety and Depression Workbook For Dummies, Depression For Dummies, Why Can't I Get What I Want?, Why Can’t I Be the Parent I Want to Be?, and Hollow Kids: Recapturing the Soul of a Generation Lost to the Self-Esteem Myth. His website is:

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APA Reference
Elliott, C. (2012). Six Reasons for Not Treating Your Anxiety or OCD. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 31, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Jan 2012
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