5 Effective Treatment Options for OCD

What is OCD?

OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder is a serious mental condition in which people experience unwelcome and distressing thoughts again and again.

It is observed by Harvard Medical School that around 2.3 percent of the population experiences OCD at some point in their life.(1)

OCD was formerly classified as an anxiety disorder as people affected with it often experience anxiety as a result of obsessive thoughts. They engage themselves in extensive rituals in an attempt to reduce anxiety. Some people with OCD have vocal or motor tics like throat-clearing and eye blinking.

OCD can come in the way of daily activities as it may affect work, school, and relationships as well.

There is no treatment to cure OCD as of now, but there are surely certain treatments that can help ease the symptoms.

5 Effective Treatment Options for OCD

Most of the people experiencing OCD symptoms do not seek treatment as the symptoms come and go. The symptoms of OCD also vary in severity over a lifetime.

It is best to get treated for OCD at the earliest as the outcomes are more successful for early intervention and care.

The treatment is provided by an interdisciplinary healthcare team has a better outcome.(2) It includes a team of doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, and pharmacologists, who can come together and create a treatment plan to meet the individual’s condition.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavior therapy is an effective way to treat OCD symptoms. It can be effective with or without medication.

It is a type of talk therapy that focuses on identifying and changing unhealthy thought patterns.

The thought in a person with OCD comes in a familiar kind of a cycle. There is an intrusive thought that sparks anxiety. The more a person tries to control or suppress the thought worse is the anxiety. Then the person responds to rituals or compulsive behavior to neutralize the threat posed by the unwelcome thoughts.

During CBT the therapist enquires about the thoughts that trigger anxiety. They may also:

  • Discuss how likely or realistic the assumptions are
  • Restructure thoughts to make them more healthy and realistic
  • Explore the sense of exaggerated responsibilities felt
  • Disconnect thoughts that come from the action
  • Practice accepting thoughts instead of trying to avoid or regulate them

CBT includes acceptance or commitment therapy that helps a person to view thoughts and feelings as temporary experience that need not be controlled.(3)

Learning to separate self from thoughts is the basic part of the therapeutic approach.

Online CBT programs are as effective as in-person therapy sessions.(4)

Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ESPR)

The underlying fears of both obsession and compulsion are addressed with exposure and response prevention therapy.

During the therapy session, the person is educated about OCD and is equipped with skills that reduce anxiety. He also helps identify the situations and events that trigger obsessive thoughts and anxiety.

He understands the actions that the person performs and how they are related to the fear. Once the triggers are identified he helps him rank them according to how upsetting they are.

Over time the therapist gradually confronts each and every fear, starting from most upsetting to least upsetting. This helps the person in calming himself.

The goal of the therapy is to learn how to reduce anxiety on your own. This helps in reducing the need for the rituals to ease the fear.

Research shows, ERP can be effective in breaking the connection between obsessive thoughts and compulsions.(5)

Medication

Those diagnosed with OCD are prescribed certain medications by the healthcare provider that can help manage the symptoms.

The most effective ones are the anti-depressants which are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

It takes time for some medications to build up the system to an effective level. Research show medications can show the best result if taken consistently.(6)

Brain Stimulation Therapies

In brain stimulation therapy, electric or magnetic stimulation is used to activate the areas of the brain that are known to affect OCD symptoms.

Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep brain stimulation is invasive, because of which doctors agree that it should only be used if psychotherapy or medications are ineffective in reducing the symptoms.

During the therapy, thin electrodes are placed in an area of the brain that is known to be involved in OCD. Small electric pulses are used to stimulate the brain. If the electric pulses are not able to relieve symptoms, the electrode can be re-implanted on another area of the brain.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique and has been found promising in the treatment of OCD.

During the therapy, a physician sends the current of energy through a magnetic coil, placed on the head, near the forehead of a person. The pulse is thought to stimulate nerve cells in the brain associated with OCD symptoms.

This therapy can be used along with medications to reduce the symptoms.

Self-Care

OCD can lead to a lot of stress that should be prevented for the success of treatment taken. Stress management techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, regular exercises, and adequate sleep are effective in calming the mind.

Along with it follow the below-mentioned tips to stay healthy:

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Practice gratitude
  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night
  • Stay hydrated

OCD is a mental health condition that causes turmoil in a person’s life. It is better to consult a doctor to address the symptoms at the earliest. Along with the treatment, it is required to reduce the stress levels and take care of the overall health.

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