What Is an Effective Treatment for OCD?

Life for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is not very pleasant. This mental illness involves obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. When combined, individuals find themselves thinking and doing things out of their control. For someone with this disorder, it is critical they seek treatment from a therapist or psychiatrist.

Treatments for OCD

One thing that makes treating OCD difficult to treat is that doctors and researchers in the medical field are not 100 percent sure what causes it.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor

This treatment for OCD, having the acronym SSRI, works by boosting serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical and neurotransmitter. When the levels fall within the normal range, people feel mentally good. Serotonin helps to regulate many things, including mood, memory, sleep, social behavior, digestion, sexual desire and appetite.

However, when serotonin levels drop too low, it can cause depression, anxiety and OCD. When a therapist or psychiatrist uses SSRIs as treatment, patients begin to see a positive change. Usually, obsession and compulsion decrease.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is another treatment for OCD. It includes both cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response therapy (ERT). Depending on the patient and the severity of the illness, a therapist or psychiatrist may provide both forms of therapy.

CBT, a type of psychological treatment, helps with many mental health issues. Included are depression, anxiety, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse and OCD. For OCD patients, they begin to regain control over their thoughts. In particular, CBT corrects unhealthy thought-patterns and uncontrollable behaviors.

The other part of the treatment is ERT. This forces patients to face their worst fears. By exposing themselves to OCD triggers, patients learn to gain control of their compulsions. Someone with this mental illness should not confuse ERT with exposure and response prevention, which is entirely different.

Education

The more educated about OCD a person becomes, the better chance they have at recovery. Although there is no cure, people do benefit from coping mechanisms. OCD also causes guilt and doubt. In fact, these are hallmarks of the condition.

In the 19th century, doctors referred to OCD as the “doubting disease.” These individuals second-guess every thought and behavior. Without help from a mental health doctor, many feel they are going crazy.

Of the two parts, obsessive thoughts are the most difficult to treat. The reason is that people with OCD can resist acting in a certain way. On the other hand, they cannot refuse to allow an obsessive thought to enter their minds. This creates a sense of disorder, fear and confusion. For this, CBT is the treatment that physicians prefer because it gets results.

Length of treatment

The amount of time it takes for a patient with OCD to see improvement depends on several factors. Along with the severity of this mental illness, a therapist or psychiatrist must consider secondary concerns. For instance, it is common for patients with OCD to also live with depression, anxiety, substance abuse and even tic disorders.

See a doctor for OCD treatment

If you or your child struggles with OCD, then it is important to seek mental health care. A therapist or psychiatrist can also help with any secondary problems beyond obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

Request an appointment here: https://www.dreileenwachter.com or call Eileen Wachter, MD at (212) 439-6328 for an appointment in our New York office.

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