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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2013 May;48(5):813-9. doi: 10.1007/s00127-012-0544-3. Epub 2012 Jul 5.

Mental health treatment seeking among patients with OCD: impact of age of onset.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Leipzig, Semmelweisstrasse 10, 04107 Leipzig, Germany.



Several studies have described the deficits in the health care provided to persons with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), however, without making any distinction between psychiatric-psychotherapeutic professionals and general practitioners or other professionals. Also, the relation between subjectively defined early signs of the disorder, diagnosis and utilization of professional help has not yet been investigated systematically. The present study addresses these questions, using a self-rating questionnaire for patients with OCD (questionnaire on the utilization of professional help by patients with OCD).


Eighty-eight patients with OCD, who came to our University Hospital Outpatient Clinic for obsessive-compulsive disorders in Leipzig, participated in the study. The questionnaire, which had been developed specially for this survey, asked study participants to remember when they had first perceived signs of their disorder and their first-time utilization of professional help.


Patients with OCD and early onset of disorder sought professional help later than did patients with later onset of disorder. When professional help was utilized, it took 2 years on average before the diagnosis was made. Patients with OCD first consulted a psychiatrist or psychotherapist and not the general practitioner as their first professional contact person.


First signs in the early stages of OCD, particularly with an onset in childhood and adolescence have to be diagnosed at an earlier stage for appropriate treatment. Psychiatrists and psychotherapists, not primarily general practitioners, have a particularly high demand for further education about early diagnosis and treatment of OCD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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