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How Long Will It Take To Recover From OCD & How Long Does The Symptoms Last?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is one of the pathologies of anxiety. People who are victims of it are confronted with worrying thoughts that keep coming back (obsessions). They are forced, to chase them or prevent them from occurring, to engage in particular rituals (compulsions).(1)

Among the most common obsessions are:

  • The permanent fear of germs or dirt, which involves as a ritual washing your hand dozens of times a day, not being able to shake hands with people, to clean your office or your house constantly
  • Doubts about what you have just done (have we locked the door before leaving, for example), which force you to check dozens of times for simple acts of daily life
  • Thoughts of violence, or sexual acts towards loved ones, thoughts that you fear to give in to and that cause rituals to be put in place so as not to succumb to them
  • The obsession with order, with symmetry, which leads to never-ending storage operations(1)

OCD will not get better without therapy. This means that it does not repair itself and usually, patients do not fully recover. However, the good news is that treatments developed over the past few decades have made OCD symptoms manageable. OCD is a chronic disease and its symptoms may last for the lifetime if not addressed properly and you do not have a strong will to counter it.(2)(3)

How Long Will It Take To Recover From OCD?

How Long Will It Take To Recover From OCD & How Long Does The Symptoms Last?

Unfortunately, there is no cure, but many people with OCD can control their symptoms extensively with proper treatment. It is chronic, which means that it is a disease that you will have to (at some level) face for the rest of your life.

OCD will take time to recover. It often takes six to twelve months to successfully treat an average case without complications from OCD. If the symptoms are severe, the patient is working slowly or has other problems, it may take longer.

Will Symptoms Of OCD Recur After Going Away?

For some individuals, the symptoms will worsen slowly, for others they will worsen when the patients are stressed or depressed. Many people with mild OCD get better without treatment. It does not usually occur with moderate to severe OCD, although symptoms sometimes go away temporarily.(4)

Two Primary Features Of OCD

It is very easy to make people with OCD feel guilty of almost anything because many of them already have such feelings. Doubt is one of the common properties of OCD. They often feel responsible for things that no one ever believes. This is a doubt raised to supreme power. Only when patients find that there is no point in resolving this doubt can they progress.

Guilt is an additional unbearable part of the disorder. It can destroy and evade even the sharpest intelligence. This is what makes patients verify things hundreds of times or ask endless questions about themselves or others. Even if an answer is found, one may remain for a few minutes to escape as if it were never there. This is a doubt that cannot be eliminated at will or ignored. Such behavior makes the disorder annoying for other family members and also for the patient.(5)

What Are The Causes Of OCD Evolution?

The causes of OCD are not known. Men and women are affected more or less equally. It is estimated that one in fifty individuals get affected by OCD once in their lifetime, more or less permanently. The disease most often begins in adolescence or early adulthood. This disease has a tendency to run in the family.

Treatments OF OCD

There are two main types of OCD treatment – psychotherapy and medication. They are often used in combination.

Psychotherapies are diverse. Behavioral therapy is often effective. It is up to the neuro-psychiatrist to determine the best indication, depending on your disorders and personality.

Anxiolytic drugs (benzodiazepines in particular) reduce anxiety, but antidepressants, without knowing exactly why, often have a very positive effect on the disease.(6)


  1. Hirschtritt ME, Bloch MH, Mathews CA. Obsessive-compulsive disorder: advances in diagnosis and treatment. Jama. 2017;317(13):1358-1367.
  2. Atmaca M. Treatment-refractory obsessive compulsive disorder. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. 2016;70:127-133.
  3. Burguiere E, Monteiro P, Mallet L, Feng G, Graybiel AM. Striatal circuits, habits, and implications for obsessive–compulsive disorder. Current opinion in neurobiology. 2015;30:59-65.
  4. Norman LJ, Carlisi C, Lukito S, et al. Structural and functional brain abnormalities in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder: a comparative meta-analysis. JAMA psychiatry. 2016;73(8):815-825.
  5. Krebs G, Heyman I. Obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and adolescents. Archives of disease in childhood. 2015;100(5):495-499.
  6. McKay D, Sookman D, Neziroglu F, et al. Efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy for obsessive–compulsive disorder. Psychiatry research. 2015;225(3):236-246.

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Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 12, 2020

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