Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a complex disease which often proves resistant to treatment. Treatment may be needed for the rest of the patient's life. The main goal when help is sought remains to bring the symptoms to a manageable level so normal life can resume.
Two main types of treatment are used for this disorder: medications and psychotherapy. When your doctor looks at how to treat OCD symptoms, they will take your preferences and personal situation into consideration. Often, a combination of these two treatment methods will be recommended. Alternative therapies may also be suggested.
Medications are frequently used to treat OCD. In most cases, the doctor will first prescribe an antidepressant approved by the FDC. These appear to help by increasing levels of serotonin. It is believed that low serotonin levels may contribute to OCD symptoms. Certain medications may be used that are referred to as off-label which means they have not been specifically approved by the FDA for this purpose, but still help. Be prepared to try several medications before the right one is found. A combination of drugs may need to be used.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients with OCD also. The purpose of this treatment is to retrain routines and thought patterns. When an obsessive thought occurs, the tools learned in therapy will be used so the compulsive behaviors won't need to be followed through. Often this treatment comes in the form of exposure and response prevention. Here the person is gradually exposed to the object which is feared. New ways of dealing with the resulting anxiety are introduced so the patient can respond in a healthier way. Groups, family, and individual therapy may be recommended.
Alternative methods for OCD treatment include residential treatment or psychiatric hospitalization. Electroconvulsive therapy, deep brain stimulation, and transcranial magnetic stimulation are just a few. Unfortunately, these methods have not been extensively tested for use with this disease so the above treatments are preferred. These alternative treatments are best used in combination with medications and therapy. Your medical professional may also tell you to avoid drugs and alcohol as they can interfere with treatment and make your condition worse. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be treated and symptoms can improve although a cure may not result. By following all medical advice though, you can keep symptoms under control.
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