When you or a loved one has been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), it can be challenging to get to grips with what such a diagnosis means for your life and future.
Living with OCD
You may wonder what type of treatments are available and how long it will take to get your symptoms of OCD under control.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a chronic mental health condition, meaning that you’ll likely have to manage and deal with the illness throughout your entire life.
The good news is that many people with OCD can get considerable control over the illness and its symptoms with treatment.
Managing obsessive thoughts and feelings
Researchers have reported that treatment for OCD is imperative so that a person can effectively manage their symptoms.
One of the main challenges with obsessive-compulsive disorder is that OCD symptoms often return if treatment measures are not consistent or neglected.
Treatment of OCD
Actively employing proper treatment measures for obsessive-compulsive disorder is crucial if you hope to maintain control over your symptoms.
Essentially, early treatment intervention can help you feel better sooner, and speaking to your doctor or health care provider about your symptoms of OCD is usually the first step.
Discussing your concerns
Taking your symptoms of OCD seriously, advocating for your care, and voicing any concerns with your doctor is another critical step to finding the best OCD treatment that suits you.
Remember, obsessive-compulsive disorder is a condition just like any other and advocating proper care and treatment is vital to start living a more healthy, fulfilling life.
Managing treatment expectations
In OCD treatment, people often find that their symptoms worsen before getting better, mainly when they first start therapy.
For instance, those receiving cognitive behavioural therapy for their OCD symptoms may experience more profound feelings of anxiety, especially initially.
Facing your fears
The above is expected and is often a result of finally confronting many of your lifelong fears, thoughts, objects or behaviours, all of those things you have gotten used to avoiding.
An essential step to OCD treatment is to be fully aware of any resistance and anxiety you may experience at the outset.
Continuing the treatment of OCD
The second step is not to allow your worries or concerns to prevent you from continuing with OCD treatment.
Research shows that people who persist with therapy despite any initial feelings of anxiety and resistance are likely to experience an improvement in their OCD symptoms over time.
OCD can be a complicated process
It may help if you speak to your doctor or therapist openly about your concerns and discuss tailoring your treatment plan to suit your individual needs.
How long before OCD treatment starts to work?
Typically, the effectiveness of OCD treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms and other factors such as existing physical or mental health conditions.
Other factors include:
- Your commitment to therapy, i.e. completing treatment homework assignments
- The alliance between you and your therapist
- How motivated you are to get your OCD symptoms under control
- Your understanding of the effect of your symptoms
Studies show that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder can expect to undergo at least 12 – 20 therapy sessions before seeing a significant reduction in their OCD symptoms.
Much of how long therapy lasts depends on how severe your OCD symptoms are; however, at the start of treatment, people usually have twice-weekly sessions and eventually graduate to one session a week.
Once you begin seeing results from therapy, it can be tempting to neglect therapy sessions or not engage in follow-up treatment.
The goal is to remain consistent with treatment
However, mental health experts say booster sessions may be required throughout the rest of a person’s life.
Going to therapy may seem like a waste of time when you feel well, but it’s vital to reflect on all your hard work that got you to how well you feel today.
Stress management techniques and maintenance therapy now and then to help you maintain a symptom-free life from OCD could prevent you from having to start treatment all over again.
What are the treatment options for OCD?
While there is no cure for obsessive-compulsive disorder, a few treatment options can help you manage your symptoms so that they don’t take over your life.
Two of the main treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder are:
There are several different types of psychotherapy.
However, cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT (a form of psychotherapy), is the most effective for people with OCD.
Exposure and response prevention (ERP)
Exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP) is a component of cognitive behavioural therapy.
ERP involves gradually exposing you to what you fear.
For example, an obsession or object, such as dirt or mess, and learning to resist the compulsion to complete a particular ritual, like hand washing or counting.
Exposure and response prevention can take time and practice.
Still, once you learn to manage and overcome your compulsions and obsessions, these actions will significantly improve your quality of life.
Mental health professionals say that combination treatments for OCD work best, for instance, combining psychotherapy and ERP with medications.
Such a combination has proven more effective than either treatment on its own.
Experts from the International OCD Foundation state that medication and ERP treatment combined is considered the first-line treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Reports from the foundation suggest that 70% of OCD sufferers benefit from treatment with medication or ERP, or a combination of the two.
Medications usually prescribed to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder can include antipsychotics and antidepressants.
FDA-approved medications for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder include Prozac, Zoloft, Anafranil, and Paxil.
Other treatment options
In cases where first-line treatments do not work or when OCD symptoms are severe, your doctor or therapist will likely recommend other therapies.
The above may include deep brain stimulation, laser-guided brain surgery or IV clomipramine (Very Well Mind, Owen Kelly, Ph.D., March 2020).
How Camino Recovery can guide you toward healing
Since obsessive-compulsive disorder has a broad spectrum of symptoms and people are so unique, the team at Camino Recovery recognizes there is no single solution.
However, combination treatments such as psychotherapy and medications are the most effective in treating OCD.
In addition, recent research shows that brain stimulation is gaining momentum as a viable treatment option for obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Team of experts
We understand that finding an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan through evidence-based techniques is one of the crucial components of a successful recovery.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be a complex condition to treat.
Understanding the complexities of OCD
Fortunately, we wholly understand the triggers, compulsions, thoughts, and behavioural patterns that are part of the condition.
Mental health conditions like OCD can be easily missed or wrongly diagnosed.
Therefore, having a specialist team that understands the symptoms and the complexities of such a condition is imperative to achieving sustainable recovery.
Contact us today to find out more.