OCD Treatment, Medication Treatment for OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment, Symptoms & Diagnosis
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is often a disabling condition consisting of bothersome intrusive thoughts that elicit a feeling of discomfort. To reduce the anxiety and distress associated with these thoughts, the patient may employ compulsions or rituals. Those with OCD may present with evidence of their rituals, such as chapped hands from compensatory over-washing, or being underweight from food restrictions secondary to contamination fears. It is crucial to have a keen eye for signs of OCD as patients are unlikely to seek treatment early on as they may be ashamed of their obsession and compulsions. Continue to read more about OCD treatment and the options available.
By We Level Up | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: July 12, 2023
OCD Treatments Overview
OCD treatment typically involves a combination of therapy and medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), specifically exposure and response prevention (ERP), is considered the gold standard for treating OCD.
ERP involves gradually exposing individuals to their obsessions and preventing them from engaging in compulsive behaviors, helping them learn to tolerate the anxiety and reduce the need for rituals. Moreover, medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can also be prescribed to help reduce OCD symptoms.
Individuals need to work with a mental health professional to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses their needs. According to the International OCD Foundation, between two and three million people in the United States have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is a mental health disorder that can be debilitating, preventing you from leading a healthy and productive life. We Level Up offers OCD treatment programs to help you understand and overcome this condition.
Talking Therapy Treatments for OCD
Talking therapy, specifically cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), effectively treats OCD. In CBT, individuals work with a therapist to identify and challenge their obsessive thoughts and develop healthier thought patterns. Moreover, exposure and response prevention (ERP), a specific type of CBT, helps individuals gradually confront their fears and resist compulsive behaviors, reducing OCD symptoms.
We Level Up mental health treatment center offers help with qualified mental health professionals and 24/7 monitoring to ensure you are safe and healthy. To help you put your new tools into use, we offer group therapy sessions and therapy for family members. OCD can be isolating, so having people around you who understand your struggles can be crucial.
After completing inpatient treatments, you can participate in alumni programs to help you transition back to your daily life. Many patients with OCD find this transition challenging if they try to go through it without support. Alumni programs offer support groups, access to exposure and response prevention therapy, medications, and assistance you need when dealing with mental disorders. It can be a crucial step after an inpatient OCD treatment.
CBT for OCD Treatment Plan
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one option that works best for OCD and anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy allows you to recognize unhelpful and negative thoughts you have and how they can affect how you feel and how you act.
You can change how you react to these harmful thinking patterns by learning to recognize them. This type of therapy focuses on the present and not on the past, allowing you to become your therapist to prevent spikes of compulsive behavior.
It also incorporates exposure and response prevention therapy, where you undergo controlled exposures to what triggers your OCD.
ERP OCD Treatment
Exposure and response prevention as treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder is a specialized form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It is considered the most effective for OCD.
ERP involves exposing individuals to obsessions or fears without allowing them to engage in compulsive behaviors. By repeatedly facing their fears and learning to resist the urge to perform rituals, individuals can gradually reduce their anxiety and gain control over their OCD symptoms.
OCD Treatment Medication
Medication can also be hugely helpful when getting OCD treatment. At We Level Up, we offer medications throughout your treatment period.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are some of the most effective medications for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. SSRIs help increase the level of serotonin in your brain. If you have low levels of this neurotransmitter, the nerves in the brain may not communicate as effectively as they need to. This can lead to depression, OCD, and other mental health conditions.
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors can be helpful for most degrees of OCD, including severe OCD. By increasing serotonin, SSRIs allow your brain’s nerves to communicate better. However, it is essential to understand that medications prescribed to treat OCD do not work immediately and may not offer long-lasting results if not combined with psychotherapy.
What is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions interfere with daily activities and cause significant distress. Obsessions are characterized by unwanted and intrusive images, urges, and thoughts that lead to feelings of distress. At the same time, compulsions are behaviors that a person may engage in to neutralize obsessions.
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OCD involves problems with the communication between structures of the brain. There is also a hereditary component to obsessive-compulsive disorder; particular genes increase a person’s risk of developing the condition.
Intrusive thoughts happen to everyone, but if they take up significant time and interfere with your life, you likely have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Obsessions occur outside of your control. They are often illogical thoughts or urges, and people with OCD recognize them. However, the intense feelings of fear, doubt, uncertainty, and even disgust they provoke can get in the way of everyday activities. OCD can occur in anyone, though symptoms often present during childhood or early adulthood.
Obsessions typically have themes. Some of the most common ones are:
- Fear of contamination.
- Requiring symmetry and order.
- Having difficulty dealing with uncertainty.
- Unwanted aggressive thoughts.
- Unwanted religious thoughts.
- Unwanted sexual thoughts.
- Unwanted thoughts about harming loved ones.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that you feel you must perform. People with OCD use them to reduce anxiety, but they do not bring long-lasting relief. They can also have themes, including:
- Repeated washing.
- Following a strict routine.
- Demanding assurance.
The severity of obsessive-compulsive disorder can vary. These OCD symptoms usually begin mildly and progress with time, worsening when you experience high-stress levels. The types of obsessions and compulsions you experience can also vary.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatments Fact Sheet
OCD Treatment Without Medication
While medication can be helpful for some individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), it is not always necessary or preferred. There are several non-medication treatment options available that have shown effectiveness in managing OCD symptoms. Here are some common approaches:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a widely used and evidence-based therapy for OCD. It involves working with a therapist to identify and challenge negative thought patterns and beliefs contributing to OCD symptoms.
- Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP): As mentioned earlier, ERP is a specific form of CBT designed to address OCD symptoms directly. It involves exposing oneself to fears or obsessions while intentionally preventing the associated compulsive behaviors. This process helps individuals learn to reduce anxiety and break the cycle of OCD.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT is another therapy that focuses on helping individuals accept their obsessions or intrusive thoughts rather than trying to control or suppress them. It aims to change individuals’ relationship with their thoughts and develop psychological flexibility to engage in activities that align with their values.
- Mindfulness-Based Therapies: Mindfulness techniques, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), can help manage OCD symptoms. These therapies teach individuals how to observe their thoughts and emotions without judgment, reducing their psychological distress related to OCD.
- Support Groups: Joining OCD support groups can allow individuals to connect with others who understand their experiences. Sharing concerns, insights, and coping strategies with peers who have gone through similar challenges can be beneficial and help in finding support and understanding.
The effectiveness of treatment approaches can differ between individuals, and each treatment plan should be tailored to their specific needs. Consulting with a qualified mental health professional experienced in OCD is essential to determine the most appropriate treatment options.
Giving any treatment approach time and effort is crucial, as progress can sometimes take time. Patience, persistence, and consistent engagement in therapy are essential to successfully managing OCD symptoms without medication.
Exposure and Response Prevention as Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy widely considered the leading treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. It involves a focused and systematic approach to gradually exposing individuals to their obsessions or fears and preventing them from engaging in their usual compulsive responses.
The main principle behind ERP is to help individuals confront their obsessions and anxieties directly while gradually reducing their reliance on compulsions or rituals to relieve the anxiety. By repeatedly facing the feared situations or thoughts, individuals gradually learn to tolerate the anxiety without resorting to their usual rituals or behaviors.
Here are some critical aspects of ERP treatment of OCD:
- Exposure: Exposure exercises involve intentionally and repeatedly exposing oneself to the thoughts, images, or situations that trigger OCD obsessions. This exposure can be done in real life or through imagination.
- Response Prevention: Response prevention involves intentionally resisting the urge to engage in the compulsions or rituals that usually follow the obsessions. This helps break the cycle of anxiety and compulsive behavior.
- Hierarchy of Exposure: Exposure exercises typically start with situations or thoughts that generate mild to moderate anxiety and gradually progress to more challenging ones. This hierarchy allows individuals to build up their tolerance and develop skills to confront their fears step by step.
- Supportive Guidance: ERP is usually conducted under the guidance of a trained mental health professional who assists with designing and implementing the exposure exercises. They provide support and guidance and help individuals navigate the challenging process of facing their fears.
- Homework Assignments: Individuals are often given homework assignments to practice the exposure exercises outside therapy sessions. This helps in reinforcing the learning and generalizing the skills to daily life.
ERP is highly effective in reducing the symptoms of OCD. It helps individuals regain control over their lives and reduces the distress caused by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. However, ERP should be conducted under the guidance of a qualified mental health professional specializing in treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder.
If you or someone you’re concerned with is struggling with OCD, seeking professional help to explore ERP as a potential treatment option is recommended.
Understanding The Symptoms and Treatments of OCD
Download the file below for more understanding of OCD. The National Institute of Mental Health of NIMH has made this file available and accessible for download to help raise awareness about OCD.
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OCD is a chronic condition, and long-term maintenance treatment is often necessary to prevent relapse. With ongoing treatment and management, many individuals with OCD can achieve long-term symptom control and improved quality of life.
OCD is estimated to affect about 1% to 2% of the U.S. population, around 2 to 3 million adults.
Unfortunately, many individuals with OCD do not seek professional help or receive appropriate treatment. Studies have suggested that only about 40% to 60% of individuals with OCD receive treatment.
Combining medication and CBT is more effective than either treatment alone. Studies suggest that around 70% to 90% of individuals with OCD respond favorably to combination therapy.
OCD Natural Treatment
While there is no definitive “natural” obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment, several natural treatment approaches can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
These approaches can be used in conjunction with therapy and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Here are some natural treatment options for OCD:
- Mindfulness-Based Therapies: Practices such as mindfulness meditation and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can help individuals with OCD cultivate greater awareness of their thoughts and emotions without judgment. Mindfulness techniques can also enhance coping skills and reduce anxiety.
- Exercise and Physical Activity: Regular physical exercise has been shown to affect mental health positively. Exercise can help reduce anxiety and stress often associated with OCD symptoms. Find an activity you enjoy and make it a part of your routine.
- Stress Management Techniques: Stress can exacerbate OCD symptoms. Learning stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and relaxation techniques like yoga or tai chi can help you manage stress levels and reduce OCD symptoms.
- Support Groups: Connecting with others with OCD can provide valuable support and a sense of community. Support groups allow you to share experiences, learn coping strategies, and gain insight into your condition.
Remember, it’s essential to consult with a mental health professional who specializes in OCD and obsessive compulsive personality disorder treatment to develop an individualized treatment plan that suits your needs. They can guide you through the appropriate natural treatment options and provide ongoing support.
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Treatment for OCD and Anxiety
OCD and anxiety disorders often co-occur. Anxiety is a common feature of OCD, often intertwined with obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Here are some key points about the relationship between OCD and anxiety:
- Anxiety as a Core Feature of OCD: Anxiety is a central characteristic of OCD. People with OCD experience intense and distressing anxiety or fear related to their obsessions, which are intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images, or impulses. The anxiety is typically relieved temporarily by engaging in compulsions or repetitive behaviors.
- Comorbidity: Comorbidity refers to two or more conditions in an individual. OCD co-occurs with other anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), and specific phobias. It is estimated that approximately 70% of individuals with OCD have at least one comorbid anxiety disorder.
- Shared Symptoms: OCD and anxiety disorders share overlapping symptoms, such as excessive worry, intrusive thoughts, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances. These shared symptoms can make it challenging to differentiate between OCD and other anxiety disorders.
OCD Treatment Considerations
The co-occurrence of OCD and anxiety often requires a comprehensive treatment approach. Treatment options may include a combination of medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and therapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), with an emphasis on exposure and response prevention (ERP). Both OCD and anxiety symptoms can be addressed through these treatment modalities.
Comorbid anxiety disorders in individuals with OCD may impact treatment response. Addressing OCD-specific and general anxiety symptoms is crucial for achieving optimal treatment outcomes.
Suppose you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of OCD and anxiety. In that case, consulting with a mental health professional who can conduct a thorough assessment and provide appropriate treatment recommendations tailored to the individual’s specific needs is advisable.
How is OCD Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of OCD is typically made by a qualified mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. The diagnostic process involves several key steps:
- Initial Assessment: The mental health professional will conduct a comprehensive interview to gather information about the individual’s symptoms, medical history, and personal background. This assessment helps in understanding the nature and impact of the symptoms experienced.
- Diagnostic Criteria: The mental health professional will refer to the diagnostic criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association. OCD is diagnosed when the following criteria are met:
- Presence of obsessions, which are recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are intrusive and cause distress.
- The presence of compulsions is repetitive behaviors or mental acts that are performed in response to obsessions to reduce anxiety or prevent a feared outcome.
- The obsessions or compulsions are time-consuming (take more than one hour per day) or significantly interfere with daily functioning, relationships, or other vital areas of life.
- Another medical or psychiatric condition does not better explain the symptoms.
The diagnosis of OCD should be made by a qualified professional based on a comprehensive assessment. Self-diagnosis or relying solely on online resources is not sufficient for an accurate diagnosis. If you suspect you or someone you’re concerned with have OCD, it is recommended to seek a professional evaluation from a mental health provider experienced in assessing and treating OCD.
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OCD Inpatient Treatment Centers
There can be complications from having obsessive-compulsive disorder and not getting the needed treatment. Symptoms can become so severe you cannot function normally. OCD can lead to problems with partners, the inability to perform your job correctly, and more.
People with OCD are also more likely to develop a substance use disorder to help them deal with the symptoms of this mental health condition. Moreover, those who have OCD are also at a higher risk of developing suicidal thoughts, which is why turning to a mental health professional for help is essential.
At We Level Up mental health treatment centers, we offer OCD treatment programs to help you relearn how to live your life without engaging in OCD rituals. We provide inpatient treatment for mental health conditions. At our center, we perform a thorough evaluation of your physical health and mental health so that we can put together a treatment plan that offers the exact services you need. Also, if you have OCD symptoms and a co-occurring substance use disorder, you may need to undergo our medical detox process.
We Level Up OCD Residential Treatment
The We Level Up residential treatment programs create a therapeutic community where individuals with OCD can connect with peers experiencing similar challenges. Being surrounded by individuals who understand their struggles can provide a sense of validation, support, and camaraderie.
The therapeutic community fosters an environment of mutual encouragement, understanding, and empathy, which can enhance motivation, promote learning, and reduce feelings of isolation. Moreover, living in a residential setting allows individuals to focus solely on their recovery without the distractions and stressors of daily life, providing an opportunity for intensive treatment and self-reflection.
Residential treatment provides a highly structured and intensive environment for individuals with OCD. It allows for round-the-clock support and supervision from a team of mental health professionals who specialize in OCD treatment. This level of care can be especially beneficial for individuals with severe symptoms or those who have not responded adequately to outpatient treatments.
At We Level Up, we can help treat OCD with our intensive treatment options. We offer some of the most effective treatments for this debilitating mental health condition, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, SSRI medications, and many other treatment options.
Searching for OCD Treatment Near Me
To find an OCD treatment center near you, you can start by online searching using keywords such as “OCD treatment center” or “residential OCD program,” along with your location. Utilize online directories and resources specific to mental health services to identify treatment centers specializing in OCD treatment. Moreover, consider contacting mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists or therapists, for recommendations and referrals to OCD treatment centers.
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Top 3 Treatment OCD FAQs
What is the best treatment for OCD?
The best treatment for OCD typically involves a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), specifically exposure and response prevention (ERP), and medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These approaches work together to help individuals manage and reduce their OCD symptoms effectively.
Can OCD come back after treatment?
OCD can come back after treatment, as it is a chronic condition. However, with proper ongoing support, including continued therapy and medication management, individuals can learn effective coping strategies and techniques to manage and minimize the recurrence of symptoms.
Can OCD get better without treatment?
In some cases, OCD symptoms may improve without formal treatment, but this is not the case for everyone. Without treatment, OCD symptoms can persist or worsen over time, impacting an individual’s quality of life. Seeking professional help provides the best chance for long-term improvement and symptom management.
What do you know about OCD? Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic disorder in which an individual has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions).
There are four main types of OCD:
- Checking OCD, where individuals have compulsions to repeatedly check things such as locks, appliances, or personal belongings.
- Contamination OCD is characterized by an intense fear of germs or contaminants, leading to compulsive cleaning, handwashing, and avoidance of certain places or situations.
- Intrusive Thought OCD involves distressing and unwanted thoughts or mental images that provoke anxiety and lead to compulsive behaviors or rituals.
- Symmetry and Ordering OCD, where individuals are obsessed with symmetry, exactness, or specific arrangements, often causing them to engage in repetitive behaviors or rituals to achieve perfection.
The good news is OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, is a treatable condition with various therapeutic interventions and medications. With proper OCD treatment and support, individuals with OCD can experience significant improvements in their symptoms and overall quality of life.
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Search We Level Up OCD Treatment, Mental Health Topics & Resources
 Brock H, Hany M. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. [Updated 2023 May 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553162/
 Stein DJ, Costa DLC, Lochner C, Miguel EC, Reddy YCJ, Shavitt RG, van den Heuvel OA, Simpson HB. Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2019 Aug 1;5(1):52. Doi 10.1038/s41572-019-0102-3. PMID: 31371720; PMCID: PMC7370844.
 Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
 Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Substance Use Disorders – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
 Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – MedlinePlus (.gov)
 Obsessive-compulsive disorder – Office on Women’s Health (.gov)
 Obsessive-compulsive disorder – MedlinePlus Genetics
 OCD and PTSD Fact Sheet – Veterans Affairs (.gov)
 Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (.gov)
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