August 13, 2019

Overcoming OCD: 5 Things You Need to Know About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment


Fewer than 2% of people suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in the US and worldwide.

Often, people with OCD often suffer negative symptoms of their disorder for years without seeking help. A late diagnosis or treatment can often lead to the development of comorbid disorders such as depression or even anorexia nervosa.

The obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors OCD patients experience can be relieved with treatment. Though there is no cure, obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment regimens can significantly improve your quality of life.

Are you looking for OCD treatment but want to know what to expect? Here are the top 5 things to know about treatment for OCD.

1. Helping with “Simple Tasks”

If you struggle with completing seemingly simple day-to-day tasks because of your OCD, know you aren’t alone. If you have gotten to a point where you are absolutely not able to function anymore, such as attend to your personal affairs, work, or interact with other people, you may need to consider a residential program where you can do more intense work to get you back on track more quickly. You may also want to see a psychiatrist who can help you find a medication that might start to relieve some of your anxiety more immediately (discussed further below).

If you are a candidate for outpatient therapy, treatment will likely focus on helping you to create some structure in your life and to have you restart some of the activities you stopped doing most recently. Your treatment will help you reclaim your life. Small tasks that used to be unbearable will become manageable, and you will regain the confidence your disorder has managed to take from you.

That way, your treatment regimen won’t just help you function– it will help you thrive.

2. SSRI Prescriptions

If you suffer from OCD, you may already be prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).

SSRIs are also used to treat depression but are taken at higher doses for OCD. Yet only 40%-60% of people report a reduction in OCD-related symptoms after taking medication. That’s why specialists suggest either therapy plus medication or therapy alone as the best obsessive compulsive disorder treatment.

It is important to note that if you are prescribed any kind of psychiatric medication, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, you must take it as prescribed and be consistent with taking the medication.  SSRI’s are not a medication that can be taken only when you feel badly because they take several weeks to build up in your system and take effect.  For many people who take SSRI’s, they find that they help to reduce the OCD symptoms or anxiety enough that they are then able to more fully engage in the therapy and do the difficult work required to treat the OCD in a more long-term way.

3. OCD Treatment Without Medication

Did you know there are methods for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder without taking medicine?

The best treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT strives not to put a “band-aid” over the problem. Instead, cognitive behavioral therapists ask questions and try to correct the irrational thoughts and compulsive behavior patterns associated with OCD.  The primary cognitive behavioral treatment intervention used to treat OCD is called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).  This involves having the individual confront the situation that causes him fear and anxiety while also practicing a new way of responding.  So, for example, if a person is highly fearful of contracting a serious illness (obsession) and therefore washes his hands multiple times an hour (compulsion), ERP may have that person touch an object that is known to be not sterile (such as a door knob) and then prevent the person from engaging in the ritualistic handwashing behavior.  During this exposure exercise, the person practices new skills he learned in treatment to help reduce his anxiety and cope with his strong desire to engage in the compulsion.  Eventually, his fear of that situation will diminish and he won’t be driven to engage in the behavior.

CBT not only treats OCD without medication but it also is the only OCD treatment supported by science. So whether or not you choose to take medication, CBT is an essential part of your recovery from OCD.

4. Relapse Is Possible

As with any disorder, you may experience a relapse after treatment. Relapses commonly occur because someone stopped taking his or her medication, because a person experienced a major life stressor or trauma, or because a person is going through some kind of transitional period in his or her life.

This is because OCD is a chronic disorder, which means there is no cure. If you have OCD, chances are you will always be a more anxious person.  But, if you choose the right treatment plan and devote yourself to practicing the skills you learned in treatment, even after you have completed treatment, you can set yourself up for a successful recovery.

5. OCD Is Comorbid with Eating Disorders

Two diseases are considered comorbid if they happen together. This is definitely the case for obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders.

In some cases, OCD pre-dates the development of the eating disorder.  So for these individuals, they may have a number of fears or irrational beliefs, including ones about food.  In this situation, they may begin to restrict their intake or change the way they eat in order to satisfy their fears or worries. So in a strange kind of way, the eating disorder is actually an adaptation to the OCD.  It may become a full blown disorder in it’s own right but it may have started as a way of trying to manage the OCD thoughts.  In other cases, as a person becomes more nutritionally compromised during the course of the eating disorder, we may find that he or she becomes more rigid and demonstrates more OCD tendencies, some of which relate to food and some of which do not. It is therefore important when choosing a clinician to treat your OCD or your eating disorder, that you find a person who has expertise in both.

Why You Need OCD Treatment Now

If you’re suffering from OCD, waiting is not going to make it better. This is not a condition that will get better on it’s own, with time.

Obsessive Compulsive disorder responds well to appropriate treatment and there are many options out there for you.  The longer that this condition goes untreated, the more likely it is that you could develop other, comorbid conditions, that make your situation more complex and more difficult to treat.

Are you looking for an expert to help you find relief for obsessive-compulsive disorder or an eating disorder with OCD? Contact Amy Boyers, PH.D. today and find out your OCD treatment options.

Get Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment in Miami

I’m Dr. Amy Boyers, a Clinical Psychologist in Miami who specializes in eating disorder treatment (all types including anorexia treatmentbulimia treatment, and binge eating treatment) and other long term conditions, including addictions, bipolar disorder treatment, and OCD. I offer personalized and sophisticated eating disorder treatment services, individual and family psychotherapy, family member support and education, in-home meal support, cognitive behavioral therapyanxiety treatmentdepression treatment, and much more.

I look forward to helping you obtain a brighter tomorrow.

Are you looking to learn more about the different types of anxiety disorders? Learn more here.

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Dr. Boyers is currently available for second opinions and consultations only. She is not available to take on therapy cases at this time but is willing to provide a consultation and help you find an appropriate team or resources in the community.