The most recent statistics from 2007 reveal that 1 in 40 Americans over the age of 18 suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Given the rise in mental health disorders over the years, this number has likely increased a lot since.
But unlike the lack of statistics on OCD prevalence, the appropriate treatments for OCD have gotten progressively better. From improved medication to the development of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, OCD treatments can help you reclaim your life.
Types Of Treatment For OCD
Broadly speaking, there are two types of treatments for OCD: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Medication.
1. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
CBT is the foremost treatment for OCD, and seasoned mental health providers will always prescribe it before or in tandem with medication treatments.
CBT is a psychotherapeutic treatment involving efforts to change unhelpful thinking patterns and the resulting destructive behaviors. Since OCD involves obsessive thinking patterns and compulsive behaviors, CBT is a useful tool to help you overcome both.
Interestingly, OCD was considered treatment-resistant up until the mid-to-late 20th century. It wasn’t until the development of CBT in the 1960s that major breakthroughs were made for OCD treatment. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) was the main channel for treating OCD through CBT, involving supervised exposure to your OCD triggers.
For example, let’s say you suffer from checking OCD, making you quadruple-check whether you locked your front door. Eventually, you confide in your therapist that, in your childhood, there was a break-in in your house and your family blamed you for not locking the door. Then, you and your therapist will roleplay your current routine of leaving the house, and your therapist will challenge you to not act on your intrusive thoughts.
At the same time, your therapist will also help you engage with and overcome the fears, self-doubt, and guilt that steers your OCD. Over the course of 12 to 24 weeks (depending on the severity of your OCD), your therapist will expose you to various triggering situations and guide you through them.
If your OCD is severe or co-occurring with other disorders, you might also have to take medications concurrently with CBT.
Depending on the severity of your OCD, you might require medication. OCD medications are prescribed either short-term to assist your psychotherapeutic treatments or long-term and even lifelong. The latter might seem daunting, but it isn’t uncommon; over half of the people under treatment for OCD take low-dose medication for years, if not for life.
The four most common classes of OCD medication are:
1. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
2. Tricyclic antidepressants
As with all medications for mental health, there isn’t one cure-all that works for everyone. Brain chemistries differ from person to person, and a medication that works for someone else might not work for you or even make things worse.
However, you and your mental health professionals will work in consultancy over the course of your treatment. Eventually, you will figure out which medication is the most effective and produces the least side effects for you.
7 Things You Should Know To Overcome OCD
Living with OCD is agonizing, and the process of OCD treatment is no walk in the park. However, the following pointers might help you be a little more at ease:
• OCD is a spectrum and affects different people in vastly different ways. Some people can cope better than others and present with high-functioning OCD, but that doesn’t mean they’re not suffering.
• OCD commonly co-occurs with other conditions and mental health disorders, the most common being major depressive disorder. Anxiety, addiction, and eating disorders are also comorbid with OCD. Hence, your OCD treatment, whether psychotherapeutic or medicative, will also address these issues.
• OCD is a chronic illness, meaning that it can persist for your entire life. Much like diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis, OCD can be controlled but not cured. Hence, the treatment for OCD essentially prepares and equips you to deal with OCD even after you’ve stopped going to therapy or taking your medication.
• Medication helps control certain symptoms of OCD, but medication alone is not a complete treatment for OCD. Psychotherapy is much more effective than medication for OCD treatment, and a combination of the two is ideal.
• Recovery takes time, and the time period for recovery differs from person to person. A lot of OCD treatment is about trial and error with different forms of psychotherapy and medication. Moreover, the effects of medication and psychotherapy take a few months to kick in.
• There is always a chance of relapse, as with many other physical and mental disorders. But remember that relapse does not mean failure; it is a part of recovery.
• You’re not alone, nor should you isolate yourself. There are countless OCD support groups out there with people who can much better empathize with your hardships.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can OCD Be Cured Fully?
OCD is a chronic illness and is therefore incurable. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t treat your OCD. Psychotherapeutic treatments and medication can help you control your OCD to the point that it does not interfere with your day-to-day life.
What Is The Best Treatment For OCD?
The best treatment for OCD is one that combines psychotherapeutic treatments and medication.
Keep in mind that medication alone isn’t enough to treat OCD. Instead, specific forms of therapy are needed to help you address intrusive thoughts and destructive behavior patterns.
Can OCD Naturally Go Away?
Without appropriate treatment, OCD can not go away on its own. On the contrary, it will only worsen over time and can potentially debilitate you to the point of no return.
To prevent this, you need to prioritize your mental health and take swift action to treat your OCD medically.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be extremely debilitating. Even high-functioning OCD can severely impact your long-term wellbeing, social life, and personal relationships.
But while you can not fully cure yourself from OCD, you can control it enough not to let it ruin your life. With the right combination of Cognitive Behavior Therapy and medication, you’ll be able to keep the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors at bay.