If you or a loved one has obsessive-compulsive disorder, then you know how devastating it can be when left untreated. It takes a huge toll not only on the person with OCD, but also on all those who care about him or her. In addition to wasted time and energy, relationships have been destroyed, families have fallen apart, careers have been ruined, and people’s lives have been shattered.

When we talk about the high cost of living with obsessive-compulsive disorder, the above scenarios are usually what we are referring to. But what about the actual cost in dollars (or pounds, or whatever currency you use)? Is it expensive to live with OCD?

It sure is. My guess is everyone with the disorder will have his or her own examples, but let’s just take a look at a few of the more common ways money can be lost to OCD:

  • If you deal with contamination OCD, this might just be the most expensive type of OCD to live with. Perhaps you go through so many cleaning products you are buying them a few times a week or even daily. And don’t forget your inflated heating and water bills from the hours and hours of showers you “have” to take, or from the excessive loads of laundry you “must” do. You might regularly throw out perfectly good clothes or other items because you feel they are contaminated. Then you “have” to go out and buy new items to replace the contaminated ones. And if you wash your hands until they are so raw they bleed, you need to buy lotion and/or first-aid supplies to prevent infection. You might even need to visit a doctor — another expense.
  • If you have “hit and run” OCD or any type of OCD related to driving, you might find yourself driving in circles for hours just to make sure you didn’t hit anyone. Maybe you take longer routes to avoid certain roads. These compulsions add extra wear and tear onto your car and are a waste of gasoline.
  • If you have OCD related to your health it can come at a substantial cost. Unnecessary visits to doctors and hospitals as well as needless tests and medications can easily cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
  • If you deal with “just right” OCD, you might often be late for work, school, or other obligations, causing you to lose your job or perhaps your college scholarship, or at the very least find yourself underemployed. Job loss, poor school and work performance, and underemployment are all common repercussions of living with untreated OCD, and the financial costs can be staggering.

As you can see, in addition to mental torment, there is a huge monetary cost to living with OCD. And the financial losses are not limited to those with the disorder. Family members and all loved ones and caregivers often suffer as well.

The solution?

Get the right help. Yes, finding a good therapist and engaging in exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy can be tough — and expensive — but instead of wasting time, energy, and money, you will be making the smartest investment possible as you work toward a life controlled by you, not OCD. And that’s something you can’t put a price on.