Obsessive-compulsive Disorder: Treatment

Reviewed Nov 10, 2017

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Summary

  • A person with OCD will need proper treatment.
  • Non-drug therapies include CBT, ERP, and WRAP®.
  • Drug therapies include antidepressants and antipsychotics.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may be a long-term illness. OCD symptoms can get better or worse over time, but will not simply go away. A person with the illness will need proper care. This can be given through a doctor or licensed health care worker trained in treating OCD.

Treatment can be behavior therapy, drug therapy, or both. Some people will do better with one versus the other. Sometimes a mixture of the two works best. When treatment is blended with a healthy life and other recovery tools, the outlook can be very good.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is an interactive form of therapy used to treat a range of issues. It is often the first line of treatment for OCD. It also can work well when mixed with antidepressants. CBT helps change the way a person thinks, feels and reacts. It has even been shown in studies to change a person’s brain activity. One purpose of CBT is to help show and reject harmful thoughts. This results in a decrease of harmful feelings and actions.

Exposure and response prevention (ERP)

This is a special form of CBT proven to be very useful in treating OCD. ERP involves putting a person in a perceived fearful situation within a controlled setting. This exposure can be real or imagined. The person is not allowed to react with a ritual. One example is to have the person touch something dirty and not let her wash her hands. When repeated over time, this can help lessen or even break the obsessive-compulsive cycle.

Antidepressants

Antidepressant drugs (SSRIs) are often used to treat OCD. These drugs may take a number of weeks before they start working. They can be helpful but may give certain side effects, such as upset stomach, headaches, and dizziness. They also may cause sleep issues and sexual side effects. SSRIs come with a warning label. Any person who is starting these drugs should be watched closely.

Common SSRIs:

  • Celexa® (citalopram)
  • Lexapro® (escitalopram)
  • Paxil® (paroxetine)
  • Prozac® (fluoxetine)
  • Zoloft® (sertraline)

Antipsychotics

Sometimes antipsychotic drugs are given for OCD. These tend to work more quickly than SSRIs. They can be used for a long time but for some, these medications may only be needed for a short time. Common side effects are weight gain, dizziness, drowsiness, and constipation. Dry mouth and blurred vision may also happen. More severe problems are muscle movement issues as well as metabolic syndrome. This is a serious condition that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Common antipsychotic drugs:

  • Abilify® (aripiprazole)
  • Haldol® (haloperidol)
  • Risperdal® (risperidone)
  • Seroquel® (quetiapine)

Alternative treatments

There is very little proof to support the use of other treatments for OCD. Two that are known for helping with depression have shown some promise in studies. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) is a method of exciting the brain using very low current. Inositol (vitamin B8) is part of our diet but is also sold as a supplement. Both treatments are low risk but more research is needed to make sure that they work for OCD.

Recovery

A person with OCD can do well with proper treatment. A healthy lifestyle can also help recovery. This includes getting regular sleep and exercise, as well as eating a balanced diet. One more helpful way to promote your health is through the Wellness Recovery Action Plan® (WRAP®). This self-designed plan lets you easily develop tools, supports, and resources for staying well. Some people with OCD have also found a variety of helpful coping methods that include guided breathing, yoga, physical activity, mindfulness, and more. These things might be listed as wellness tools in the person’s WRAP®.

Resources

Mental Health Recovery/WRAP®: Wellness Recovery Action Plan®
www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/about/overview.php

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Images/FactSheets/OCD-FS.pdf
www.namihelps.org/assets/PDFs/fact-sheets/General/Cognitive-Behavioral-Therapy.pdf

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-Disorder/Treatment and; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml; National Institute of Health, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3423997/; Mental Health America, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/cranial-electrotherapy-stimulation and www.mentalhealthamerica.net/inositol; Mental Health Recovery, www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/wrap
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • A person with OCD will need proper treatment.
  • Non-drug therapies include CBT, ERP, and WRAP®.
  • Drug therapies include antidepressants and antipsychotics.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may be a long-term illness. OCD symptoms can get better or worse over time, but will not simply go away. A person with the illness will need proper care. This can be given through a doctor or licensed health care worker trained in treating OCD.

Treatment can be behavior therapy, drug therapy, or both. Some people will do better with one versus the other. Sometimes a mixture of the two works best. When treatment is blended with a healthy life and other recovery tools, the outlook can be very good.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is an interactive form of therapy used to treat a range of issues. It is often the first line of treatment for OCD. It also can work well when mixed with antidepressants. CBT helps change the way a person thinks, feels and reacts. It has even been shown in studies to change a person’s brain activity. One purpose of CBT is to help show and reject harmful thoughts. This results in a decrease of harmful feelings and actions.

Exposure and response prevention (ERP)

This is a special form of CBT proven to be very useful in treating OCD. ERP involves putting a person in a perceived fearful situation within a controlled setting. This exposure can be real or imagined. The person is not allowed to react with a ritual. One example is to have the person touch something dirty and not let her wash her hands. When repeated over time, this can help lessen or even break the obsessive-compulsive cycle.

Antidepressants

Antidepressant drugs (SSRIs) are often used to treat OCD. These drugs may take a number of weeks before they start working. They can be helpful but may give certain side effects, such as upset stomach, headaches, and dizziness. They also may cause sleep issues and sexual side effects. SSRIs come with a warning label. Any person who is starting these drugs should be watched closely.

Common SSRIs:

  • Celexa® (citalopram)
  • Lexapro® (escitalopram)
  • Paxil® (paroxetine)
  • Prozac® (fluoxetine)
  • Zoloft® (sertraline)

Antipsychotics

Sometimes antipsychotic drugs are given for OCD. These tend to work more quickly than SSRIs. They can be used for a long time but for some, these medications may only be needed for a short time. Common side effects are weight gain, dizziness, drowsiness, and constipation. Dry mouth and blurred vision may also happen. More severe problems are muscle movement issues as well as metabolic syndrome. This is a serious condition that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Common antipsychotic drugs:

  • Abilify® (aripiprazole)
  • Haldol® (haloperidol)
  • Risperdal® (risperidone)
  • Seroquel® (quetiapine)

Alternative treatments

There is very little proof to support the use of other treatments for OCD. Two that are known for helping with depression have shown some promise in studies. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) is a method of exciting the brain using very low current. Inositol (vitamin B8) is part of our diet but is also sold as a supplement. Both treatments are low risk but more research is needed to make sure that they work for OCD.

Recovery

A person with OCD can do well with proper treatment. A healthy lifestyle can also help recovery. This includes getting regular sleep and exercise, as well as eating a balanced diet. One more helpful way to promote your health is through the Wellness Recovery Action Plan® (WRAP®). This self-designed plan lets you easily develop tools, supports, and resources for staying well. Some people with OCD have also found a variety of helpful coping methods that include guided breathing, yoga, physical activity, mindfulness, and more. These things might be listed as wellness tools in the person’s WRAP®.

Resources

Mental Health Recovery/WRAP®: Wellness Recovery Action Plan®
www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/about/overview.php

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Images/FactSheets/OCD-FS.pdf
www.namihelps.org/assets/PDFs/fact-sheets/General/Cognitive-Behavioral-Therapy.pdf

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-Disorder/Treatment and; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml; National Institute of Health, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3423997/; Mental Health America, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/cranial-electrotherapy-stimulation and www.mentalhealthamerica.net/inositol; Mental Health Recovery, www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/wrap
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • A person with OCD will need proper treatment.
  • Non-drug therapies include CBT, ERP, and WRAP®.
  • Drug therapies include antidepressants and antipsychotics.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may be a long-term illness. OCD symptoms can get better or worse over time, but will not simply go away. A person with the illness will need proper care. This can be given through a doctor or licensed health care worker trained in treating OCD.

Treatment can be behavior therapy, drug therapy, or both. Some people will do better with one versus the other. Sometimes a mixture of the two works best. When treatment is blended with a healthy life and other recovery tools, the outlook can be very good.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is an interactive form of therapy used to treat a range of issues. It is often the first line of treatment for OCD. It also can work well when mixed with antidepressants. CBT helps change the way a person thinks, feels and reacts. It has even been shown in studies to change a person’s brain activity. One purpose of CBT is to help show and reject harmful thoughts. This results in a decrease of harmful feelings and actions.

Exposure and response prevention (ERP)

This is a special form of CBT proven to be very useful in treating OCD. ERP involves putting a person in a perceived fearful situation within a controlled setting. This exposure can be real or imagined. The person is not allowed to react with a ritual. One example is to have the person touch something dirty and not let her wash her hands. When repeated over time, this can help lessen or even break the obsessive-compulsive cycle.

Antidepressants

Antidepressant drugs (SSRIs) are often used to treat OCD. These drugs may take a number of weeks before they start working. They can be helpful but may give certain side effects, such as upset stomach, headaches, and dizziness. They also may cause sleep issues and sexual side effects. SSRIs come with a warning label. Any person who is starting these drugs should be watched closely.

Common SSRIs:

  • Celexa® (citalopram)
  • Lexapro® (escitalopram)
  • Paxil® (paroxetine)
  • Prozac® (fluoxetine)
  • Zoloft® (sertraline)

Antipsychotics

Sometimes antipsychotic drugs are given for OCD. These tend to work more quickly than SSRIs. They can be used for a long time but for some, these medications may only be needed for a short time. Common side effects are weight gain, dizziness, drowsiness, and constipation. Dry mouth and blurred vision may also happen. More severe problems are muscle movement issues as well as metabolic syndrome. This is a serious condition that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Common antipsychotic drugs:

  • Abilify® (aripiprazole)
  • Haldol® (haloperidol)
  • Risperdal® (risperidone)
  • Seroquel® (quetiapine)

Alternative treatments

There is very little proof to support the use of other treatments for OCD. Two that are known for helping with depression have shown some promise in studies. Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) is a method of exciting the brain using very low current. Inositol (vitamin B8) is part of our diet but is also sold as a supplement. Both treatments are low risk but more research is needed to make sure that they work for OCD.

Recovery

A person with OCD can do well with proper treatment. A healthy lifestyle can also help recovery. This includes getting regular sleep and exercise, as well as eating a balanced diet. One more helpful way to promote your health is through the Wellness Recovery Action Plan® (WRAP®). This self-designed plan lets you easily develop tools, supports, and resources for staying well. Some people with OCD have also found a variety of helpful coping methods that include guided breathing, yoga, physical activity, mindfulness, and more. These things might be listed as wellness tools in the person’s WRAP®.

Resources

Mental Health Recovery/WRAP®: Wellness Recovery Action Plan®
www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/about/overview.php

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Images/FactSheets/OCD-FS.pdf
www.namihelps.org/assets/PDFs/fact-sheets/General/Cognitive-Behavioral-Therapy.pdf

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-Disorder/Treatment and; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml; National Institute of Health, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3423997/; Mental Health America, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/cranial-electrotherapy-stimulation and www.mentalhealthamerica.net/inositol; Mental Health Recovery, www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/wrap
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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