Although there is no absolute cure for OCD at this point, there is substantial help available for those who suffer from this disorder.
Life for the OCD sufferer can become normalized so that the symptoms don’t interfere with everyday living. With effective treatment, people with this disorder can live full, productive, and normal lives. Many have found antidepressant medication to be a helpful part of their treatment for OCD. These medications, called SSRI’s, can increase the level of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, in the brain, and this seems to reduce OCD symptoms. Dosages of these medications are usually higher in treating OCD than when they are used solely for depression. Medication alone, however, is not usually as helpful in controlling OCD as a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, is an important part of recovery from OCD. This form of therapy provides the tools and skills necessary for managing obsessional and compulsive behavior. One
helpful therapeutic tool used with OCD is exposure and response prevention. This technique reduces the anxiety associated with obsessive thoughts through a process called habituation. When a person is exposed to anxiety
repeatedly, the nervous system gradually adjusts to the anxiety (just as our hands adjust to being dipped in cold water after a period of time). Thus, we learn to tolerate the anxiety associated with obsessive thinking and decrease the need to engage in compulsive techniques for reducing the anxiety. Psychotherapy also aims to challenge the faulty thinking patterns that drive and maintain the obsessive thoughts. Another valuable technique is called mindfulness, in which we increase our awareness of the thoughts that
guide our debilitating behavior. Supportive therapy with a concerned professional can help the person to gain knowledge and courage to try to deal with anxieties without resorting to obsessional thoughts and compulsive behavior.
An important component of therapy is to bring other family members into the process so that they can learn appropriate ways of coping with the disorder and provide a supportive and understanding environment for the sufferer. Most people who suffer from OCD try to keep their condition secret and may engage in denial. The first step in overcoming this debilitating circumstance is to make an appointment to talk to a professional psychotherapist.