There is no outright cure for OCD, but several highly effective treatments can help reduce the symptoms. OCD as a mental health condition is treated with medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The first step in the process is a diagnosis of OCD. Once a patient has met the criteria of OCD, therapists/doctors can apply a treatment regimen.
DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for OCD are the gold standard. Other examinations and evaluations include a psychological assessment and physical exam. However, it can prove challenging to diagnose OCD correctly. The symptoms of this disorder mimic many other psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, anxiety-related disorders, major depressive disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, among others. More commonly, a patient may present with multiple conditions simultaneously.
Medication and Therapy for Treating OCD
Medications that are typically used to treat OCD include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and clomipramine (Anafranil). SSRIs are generally considered the first line of treatment, as they tend to have fewer side effects than the other medication options. CBT for OCD usually involves exposure and response prevention (ERP), a type of therapy that gradually exposes the patient to their fear triggers while teaching them how to resist the urge to engage in their compulsive behaviors.
It is important to remember there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating OCD, and what works for a specific person may not work for another. In addition, in some cases, medication and therapy may not be enough to alleviate symptoms completely, and patients may require additional treatment options, such as Deep TMS™, hospitalization, or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
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Is There or Isn’t There A Cure For OCD?
It appears that the majority of people experience relief from their OCD symptoms, given the proper treatment regimen. A powerful treatment option for OCD is exposure and response prevention, known as ERP. This form of therapy forms part of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). ERP is a unique form of behavioral therapy that helps patients confront their fear triggers without engaging in their compulsive behaviors. So, can OCD be cured or not?
One study found that 84% of patients who underwent CBT with ERP experienced significant improvement in their symptoms, and 58% were considered in remission from OCD. These results suggest that CBT with ERP is a highly effective treatment for OCD. But, it’s essential to understand that not everyone will respond to this treatment in the same way, and some people may require additional treatment options, such as medication, TMS, or hospitalization.
Since OCD is a mental health condition, it makes sense that thought processes play into it. If a patient can be trained to think differently about an experience, the actions around those thoughts may be different too. With OCD, a patient must embrace their condition to do something about it. OCD is part of the person; it’s not a defect – it’s a series of thought processes that manifest in actions. Let’s identify some of the most common features in OCD:
- Thinking about calamity, disaster, and end of world scenarios
- Thoughts that are repugnant, reprehensible, or outright criminal
- An obsession with cleanliness, routine, hygiene, germs, and fixed ways of doing things
Several things are notable about these thoughts:
- They are all about potential future events.
- They are usually about something bad happening.
- They often involve some inflexibility or rigidity.
Now, let’s think about how we can reframe these thoughts. Instead of thinking about calamity, disaster, and the end of the world, what if we thought about potential future events as opportunities? Instead of thinking that our thoughts are repugnant or criminal, what if we felt that they were just thoughts? And instead of obsessing over cleanliness, routine, and fixed ways of doing things, what if we embraced change and flexibility? By changing our thought processes, we can change our actions. If we can learn to think differently about our OCD, we can learn to act differently, too.
What happens if we don’t treat OCD?
If OCD is left untreated, it can significantly impact a person’s life. OCD can lead to social isolation, as people with the condition may be afraid to leave their homes or interact with others. This disorder can also cause problems at work or at school, as people with OCD may have difficulty concentrating or completing tasks. OCD can be utterly debilitating in severe cases, preventing people from living everyday lives. If you believe that you or a person you know may have OCD, it is essential to seek professional help.
In summary, there are many powerful treatments for OCD, including medication, therapy, and FDA-cleared transcranial magnetic stimulation. Combining treatments for patients can bring about significant relief, and patients can live a largely stress-free life with the proper treatment.
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