Treatment of OCD

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There are basically two kinds of treatment for OCD: psychological treatment and drug therapy.

Person talking with the doctor

Psychological treatment. The most effective is known as exposure and response prevention (ERP), which consists of teaching the person how to deal with the distress or anxiety caused by the obsessions and to stop acting out the compulsions. Exposure and response prevention forms part of a type of psychological treatment called cognitive‑behavioural therapy (CBT) and is carried out by a professional specialized in this type of treatment. There are other types of psychological treatment that place a greater emphasis on supporting the patient or finding the cause of the disorder, but in general these treatments have not proved particularly useful in most people with OCD.

round pills, vasodilators

Drug therapy. The most commonly used drugs are antidepressants, specifically, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Despite their name, antidepressants are not only used in people with depression, in fact they are effective in a lot of mental disorders (including OCD). The doses used for adequate treatment of OCD are generally higher than those given to people with depression.

As a rule, children and adolescents should initially receive psychological treatment (exposure and response prevention) and drug therapies should only be used if this does not work (or in very severe or disabling cases). Drug therapies to treat OCD must normally be prescribed by a psychiatrist.

surgery scalpel

Surgey treatment. In cases where the disorder is very limiting and several treatments have been tried but without success, there is still the option of surgical treatment, that is, operating on the brain.

Substantiated information by:

Luisa Lázaro García
Miquel Àngel Fullana Rivas

Published: 7 February 2019
Updated: 7 February 2019


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