What is OCD? The Best OCD Treatments that Work

While society has come far in understanding mental illness, many stigmatized disorders like OCD remain misunderstood and diminished to simple quirks. When people think of OCD, their minds might jump to the image of a perfectionist who obsessively cleans everything. While cleaning compulsions are an experience of some people with OCD, the reality of this disorder is far more profound than we admit. OCD treatment is vital for anyone suffering from this disorder and struggling to feel heard and understood. This article will help you understand OCD and the best treatment methods to help you heal.

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder where individuals face a pattern of obsessions and compulsions which interfere with their daily lives and activities.

Obsessions in OCD are intrusive thoughts, fears, or images that make the individual feel anxious, disturbed, and consumed. To combat obsessions, the individual engages in repetitive compulsions and ritualistic behaviors to rid themselves of the obsession.

When a person suffering from OCD ignores their obsessions, their anxiety and fear increase, and more often than not, leads to performing their compulsive behaviors. OCD compulsions typically take up a significant portion of your day, whether physical or mental.

Without proper OCD treatment, individuals continue ritualistic behaviors to rid their minds of increasing levels of worry. However, the more obsessive thoughts keep returning, the more vicious OCD becomes as individuals get consumed in their rituals.

What is the Best OCD Treatment?

Numerous options are available to help individuals suffering from OCD. Finding a treatment that suits your individual needs is essential to addressing and overcoming OCD. Below are some available treatments for OCD that you should consider if you are or believe you are struggling with the disorder.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A standard method of treating OCD is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a psychotherapy method used to treat numerous mental health disorders. When used for patients with OCD, a therapist guides the individual through processes to understand why and how their brain sends them triggering and intrusive messages.

When patients encounter an obsession, their therapist will help them learn to rewire their minds and respond differently to obsessive thoughts. The aim of CBT for OCD treatment is to recognize the meaning behind the obsessive thought patterns that trigger your compulsions. CBT works to help individuals with OCD understand their obsessive thoughts and how they can respond to their thoughts in a way that doesn’t encourage dysfunctional compulsive behaviors.

Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy

Patients with OCD often benefit from exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP). ERP is a component of CBT therapy, with solid evidence supporting its effectiveness in treating individuals with OCD. ERP helps patients with OCD overcome their fears and compulsions through gradual exposure to the obsessions that cause ritualistic behaviors. Patients receiving ERP work with a therapist to manage their compulsions and resist the constant urge to act on compulsions.

In ERP, individuals with OCD will confront the thoughts and situations that provoke obsessions and encourage compulsive behavior. After this initial “exposure,” the patient moves on to the response prevention portion, where their therapist encourages them to decide not to engage in their compulsions.

With time and practice, ERP can help patients with OCD rewire their brains to stop seeing particular objects, situations, and thoughts as inherent threats. Instead of ignoring the things that make you anxious, ERP requires that you expose yourself to the direct source of your anxiety.

Medications

While there aren’t psychiatric medications that target OCD specifically, anti-depressants and other forms of medication help treat OCD. Past research indicates that Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are best for treating patients with OCD and can treat depression as well in patients with both OCD and depression. Many patients benefit from a combination of anti-depressants and ERP for treating their OCD.

Intensive Outpatient Programs

Those struggling with severe OCD symptoms that impact their daily functioning may benefit from intensive outpatient therapy programs. Suppose your OCD symptoms are severe and untreatable with medication and ERP alone. In that case, your psychiatrist might suggest an intensive outpatient program that meets around five days a week, often for a few hours each day.

Intensive outpatient therapy is effective in treating various conditions and is a structured program where you can still live at home, work, and get an education. Medical professionals consider this type of therapy “intensive” because of the many hours involved in a successful program.

An intensive outpatient program for someone with OCD would include a combination of the following treatment strategies:

  • Group counseling
  • Individual counseling
  • Managing medication
  • Education about OCD
  • Psychiatric care
  • Additional supplementary therapies, such as art therapy

Partial Hospitalization

Partial hospitalization programs are another type of OCD treatment typically reserved for those whose obsessions and compulsions severely impact their life. Patients unable to function because of their OCD symptoms might consider this program, which requires that they attend treatments at a mental hospital several hours a day and often up to five days a week.

Partial hospitalization typically runs about eight hours per day, meaning that it takes up a significant amount of your time and requires a flexible schedule. However, the treatment can be beneficial for patients with OCD, and the program typically lasts no more than 2-3 weeks.

Inpatient Program

Inpatient programs for patients with OCD, while rarer than other treatment methods, can have a massive impact on your life. With an inpatient program, individuals remain in a mental health facility all hours of the day, typically between several days and a week. Once the patient has begun to recover, they will move down to a slightly lower level of care for their OCD, such as partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient programs.

Recover with Comprehensive Wellness Centers

Individuals seeking high-quality OCD treatment don’t have to suffer through their search alone. The plentiful resources and services from Comprehensive Wellness Centers are vital for anyone struggling with OCD and other mental health conditions.

Mental health programs at Comprehensive Wellness Centers take a well-rounded approach to identifying the core issues of your OCD. Comprehensive Wellness Centers look at all the issues causing your obsessive thoughts and compulsions and provide solutions to improve your coping skills and change your OCD symptoms.

Medically Reviewed: October 20, 2022

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer | CWC Recovery Staff

Clinical Team

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All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Content on this page has been reviewed by CWC Medical Staff for accuracy.


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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