Treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The medicines listed on this website are only there to give you knowledge. Just because they are on the list doesn’t mean that anyone will be given them; in the end, treatment decisions are up to the healthcare workers. The medicines on this list are not all of them. Doctors may recommend other drugs, even ones that don’t contain stimulants, depending on the patient’s specific health needs and circumstances.

Some individuals believe that having an intense need for organisation and worrying excessively about neatness is all that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is about. But this is a frequent misconception, and the reality is that the illness is more nuanced.

OCD symptoms are defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as the presence of intrusive thoughts that are recurring and persistent, or obsessions, together with repeated, compulsive rituals performed in reaction to these ideas. Both compulsions and obsessions take a lot of time and cause severe discomfort or suffering.

Nonetheless, there are several approaches to treating OCD and improving symptom management. They include, and are often used in conjunction with, medicine, psychotherapy, and lifestyle modifications. Find out more about them by reading on.

Talk therapy for obsessive compulsive disorder

Talk therapy, often known as psychotherapy, is one of the most popular treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder. It offers a safe, accepting environment for discussing and exploring ideas, feelings, and actions. You may acquire coping mechanisms from a psychotherapist or psychologist, who can also assist you in being more aware of your obsessions and compulsive behaviours.

OCD may be effectively treated with three primary forms of psychotherapy: acceptance and commitment treatment, exposure and response prevention therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Therapy based on cognitive behaviour (CBT)

Due to its efficacy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) [1*] is often used as the first line of treatment for OCD and has received much investigation. Its primary objective is to assist OCD sufferers in determining what, in their specific situation, can set off obsessions and compulsions. This kind of therapy’s techniques may assist cope with intrusive, recurrent thoughts and help replace obsessive patterns with more constructive coping methods. Patients are able to better understand and control the relationship between the trigger and obsessive-compulsive behaviours as a consequence.

Treatment for Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

In essence, exposure and response prevention treatment (ERP) [2*] is a sophisticated variation of CBT. As the name implies, its main goal is to assist patients in confronting their obsessions or anxieties without overreacting.

Patients are progressively exposed during sessions to ideas, pictures, objects, or circumstances that cause them to get fixated. They also engage in certain activities that, without the need for rituals, help them handle stress and anxiety. The loop of obsessions and compulsions is gradually broken by this approach.

Therapy based on acceptance and commitment (ACT)


The mindfulness-based method of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is used. Rather than attempting to ignore or control painful thoughts and sensations, it might assist people in accepting them.

When using ACT [3*] to treat OCD, the primary objective is to help the patient accept their thoughts and obsessions and encourage behaviours that are motivated by values. ACT primarily aids in enhancing psychological adaptability and lessening the impact of the illness on day-to-day experiences.

What Medications Can Be Prescribed for OCD?

When OCD symptoms range from mild to severe and psychotherapy doesn’t appear to be working well enough, medication is often taken into consideration. The following are the most often recommended drugs for the treatment of OCD:

Selecting the Appropriate Drug

There are several OCD therapies available, so it’s critical to choose the one that best meets your requirements. The degree of symptoms, responsiveness to prior therapies, co-existing diseases, and possible side effects all play a role in the decision of which drug to take. Finding the right drug and dose requires discussing every element of your medical history with a healthcare professional.

OCD Medication Side Effects and Risks

The drugs recommended for OCD may have negative effects, just like any other treatments. Some are common and mild, going away with time, while others may be more serious, necessitating stopping the medicine and selecting an alternative.

agitation, anxiety, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, migraines, and sleeplessness are among side effects of SSRIs. Compared to SSRIs, clomipramine has a greater frequency of adverse effects, therefore taking it needs additional care. Dry mouth, constipation, weight gain, drowsiness, impaired vision, and low blood pressure are typical side effects. Atypical antipsychotics may also have adverse effects that include mood swings, sleepiness, changes in weight, and sexual dysfunction.

To prevent side effects, it’s essential to adhere strictly to the prescribed course of therapy for OCD. Additionally, don’t forget to let your healthcare physician know about any worries or adverse effects. Finding a remedy that offers more advantages than disadvantages would be beneficial.

Relationships With Other Drugs

Drugs may interact with over-the-counter vitamins, certain foods, and other medications:

Alternative Approaches to Treating OCD

Apart from the conventional therapy modalities mentioned before, your healthcare professional could suggest other possibilities. If you have a severe type of OCD, don’t react well to the recommended courses of therapy, or just want to ensure that your treatment plan is working, then it can be a wise choice.

Support Teams

Those suffering from OCD may need support from those facing same difficulties, even when they get the best therapy available. According to studies, support groups are a useful resource for OCD sufferers since members may exchange beneficial self-help techniques and discuss their experiences. In addition to helping you avoid anxieties, support groups may lessen feelings of loneliness and provide a supportive social atmosphere.

Stress Reduction

Stress may sometimes worsen OCD symptoms [7*], making it more challenging to manage worry and intrusive thoughts. Thus, maintaining healthy habits and implementing additional stress-reduction strategies into everyday life might be beneficial:

DBS, or deep brain stimulation

Treatment-resistant patients and those with severe OCD may benefit from deep brain stimulation (DBS) [9*]. Despite being relatively new and uncommon, this approach has shown a significant improvement in symptoms. Prefrontal-subcortical circuits, which are linked to OCD symptoms, are among the brain regions where electrical conductors are surgically implanted during DBS.

Magnetic Stimulation of the Brain (TMS)

The FDA [10*] has authorised transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for the treatment of major depressive disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder [11*]. A magnetic field is created during this non-invasive process, which travels through the skull and activates areas of the brain underneath it. It may assist in modifying the brain circuits that OCD has created and alleviate its symptoms.

In summary

A thorough treatment strategy is necessary for OCD, which may include a mix of techniques. While some individuals may benefit from medication or a mix of many approaches, others may benefit more from counselling.


Can you treat OCD by yourself?

For those with minor symptoms, or as a supplement to psychotherapy and medication, self-help strategies may be beneficial. It is advisable to seek therapy for OCD from a qualified healthcare provider, since they are capable of developing a customised, all-encompassing strategy that addresses even the most minor symptoms.

Can you fully recover from OCD?

Each person’s odds of fully recovering from OCD vary. While some people may have much better symptoms, others can have a more enduring ailment. It’s critical to understand that total healing does not include the elimination of all obsessive thoughts. It is figuring out how to control and minimize the influence of these ideas on day-to-day existence. Also take notice of the fact that good treatment outcomes are usually increased with early diagnosis.

What happens if OCD is left untreated?

Untreated OCD may cause symptoms to increase to the point that they start to interfere with day-to-day activities, such as relationships and employment. It may also raise the likelihood of drug misuse and suicidal thoughts, as well as lead to the emergence of further mental health issues including depression and anxiety disorders.

Can OCD ever go away?

Even the best therapies aren’t always able to totally eradicate intrusive thoughts and compulsions. However, the majority of the time, drugs, counselling, and complementary therapies greatly reduce symptoms. Long-term professional therapy may also teach you helpful coping mechanisms and self-help techniques to handle OCD symptoms at any time.