Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
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How Is OCD Treated?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) currently has no cure, but a combination of medications and psychotherapy has proven to be effective at reducing the severity of symptoms in many patients. In these patients, the impact of symptoms may be reduced to a level that minimizes their detrimental effect on daily functioning. Many sufferers, however, will need to continue treatment for the rest of their lives in order to manage their symptoms, and some patients may not respond to treatment at all.
Several different medications may be used to treat and manage the symptoms of OCD, and individual medication plans are dependent on the age of the patient, the patient’s responsiveness to treatments, and the severity of their symptoms.
- Antidepressants. These drugs are usually the medications that doctors try first as part of an overall treatment plan. Clomipramine is often prescribed to treat OCD symptoms in adults and children over the age of 10. Fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, and sertraline are sometimes prescribed for younger children, and paroxetine is typically only prescribed for adults.
- Antipsychotics. When OCD patients do not respond to treatment with antidepressants, doctors will sometimes prescribe an antipsychotic such as risperidone. The research into the effectiveness of these drugs in treating OCD is not yet conclusive, however.
- Other Medications. Because OCD sometimes is present alongside other mental disorders, medications to treat those disorders may also be part of a patient’s treatment plan.
While medications or psychotherapy are sometimes used alone in treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a combination of the two approaches is often most effective at lessening the severity of the symptoms. The most common therapeutic approach is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), an approach that focuses on helping the patient to identify a pattern of harmful thoughts and to construct strategies and solutions for dealing with them that don’t interfere with functionality.
A more involved approach is exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. This is a type of CBT that involves gradually, and in a controlled way, exposing the patient to the triggers of their anxieties and compulsive behaviors and teaching them ways to cope with the triggers.
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