The depiction of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in media may sometimes cast it in an unfavorable light but the struggle is, indeed, real! People diagnosed with it have to struggle with a wide range of emotional and social issues that often prevent them from enjoying more productive lives. Fortunately, doctors can recommend the twin therapies for people who have OCD, namely, psychotherapy and medication.
Emphasis must be made on a few things. First, many patients can manage their symptoms with psychotherapy alone but doctors agree that treatment is most effective when these twin therapies are in place. Second, treatment doesn’t necessarily result in a cure although it’s useful in bringing symptoms under control. Third, some patients may require lifetime treatment so regular medical check-ups are a must to maximize gains and minimize side effects.
Psychotherapy as a Foundation of Treatment
Psychiatrists usually start patient with OCD on a psychotherapy program since it’s the foundation of an effective treatment plan. Without it, the most effective medications will be of little use because there will be little change in behavior.
The more common type of psychotherapy used on people with OCD is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). There are many types of CBT, too, of which exposure and response prevention (ERP) is among the most effective.
Basically, a patient is gradually exposed to a feared obsession or object as well as taught about healthy ways of coping with the anxiety involved with the exposure. This demands time, energy and effort as well as practice but it is well worth it, especially when the obsessions and compulsions are brought under control.
Medications Manage the Symptoms
Psychiatrists also prescribe certain medications in controlling the obsessions and compulsions associated with OCD. The first line of defense, so to speak, are antidepressants including the following FDA-approved drugs:
Many other psychiatric medications may also be prescribed depending on the response of each patient. If you have been diagnosed with OCD, you have to remember that there’s no magic bullet for your case. Your psychiatrist will use a trial-and-error method in determining the most effective medications and their dosage for you so patience is a must.
You don’t have to take your medications without question either. You can discuss your concerns about these OCD medications with your doctor, such as their side effects, drug interactions, and suicide risk. You should become an active partner in your own OCD treatment plan but be careful about becoming overwhelmed with the tiniest details or overwhelming healthcare professionals with your obsession over them.