Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a mental illness characterized by recurring thoughts or sensations (obsessions) that drive an individual to do something repetitively (called compulsions). It is possible for people to have both obsessions and compulsions together.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects an individual’s thoughts and behavior. In this condition, the individual has intrusive repetitive distressing thoughts and compulsions or ritualistic mental acts or behavior which can cause great distress if the individual doesn’t act on them.
The repetitive behaviors can be something like cleaning something several times after suspecting it is dirty, checking on things every minute or having an obsessive thought about why a particular color is good, and others are bad, etc. In general, everybody has habits that they do repeatedly, but in OCD, these persistent thoughts or habits are extremely rigid and difficult to stop.
Living with OCD can be devastating as the individual with OCD symptoms will be aware that something is wrong with them but they still won’t be able to control their thoughts. But there is hope. Various OCD Treatment options are available that can help individuals with OCD cope with their thoughts and have better control over their behavior.
Here are a few OCD Treatment options available for you:
Obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment may not result in a cure, but it can help bring symptoms under control so that they don’t rule your daily life. Depending on the severity of OCD, some people may need long-term, ongoing, or more intensive treatment.
The two main OCD treatment options are psychotherapy and medications. Often, treatment is most effective with a combination of these.
Here are a few OCD Treatment options available for you:
This therapy focuses on the individual’s thoughts and behavior. Here the assumption is that our thoughts directly influence our behavior, hence the focus of CBT is to identify the unhelpful thoughts, break it down, and try to bring a change in them. Altering thoughts with the expectation that behavior would also change.
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
ERP is a type of CBT. Here the individual is, first, asked to identify their fears and arrange it in a hierarchy. Then they are gradually exposed to these fears starting from the least intense one. While the exposure, with the guidance of the therapist, the individual learns not to respond to it like they usually do. The assumption here is that obsessions affect an individual until the compulsion is carried out. Hence here the individual is not allowed to carry out the compulsion with the expectation that the obsession would, with repetitive exposure, become habitual.
Medications are also prescribed to individuals with OCD; it helps reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety. Also, individuals with OCD are often seen to suffer from depression too. In these cases, antidepressants are also prescribed. The general goal behind choosing medication is to effectively control the obsessions and compulsions of OCD and its symptoms by administering the lowest possible dosage. Hence, your doctor will usually try out several drugs to come up with a medication program that works well for you. They might also prescribe more than one medication to manage the symptoms. Medications can take weeks or even months before one could see an improvement in symptoms.
These are surgeries done in the brain. Psychosurgery is only recommended when none of the therapies or medications shows any improvement. Although seen in very rare cases, psychosurgeries can help alleviate OCD effectively.
Known as ECT. This therapy involves passing an electric current through the brain; this brings about a change in the brain chemicals which in turn brings a change in behavior. ECT is also recommended when therapies do not work and are done only under professional supervision.
There aren’t any cures for OCD, but individuals can manage how the symptoms of OCD affect their lives. Although CBT, medications, and other treatment methods mentioned above have offered strong evidence of being the most effective treatments for OCD, in some treatment-resistant cases, a more intensive level of care or other options may be offered.
There are residential facilities available for individuals who are not able to control their behavior on their own. In these extreme cases, an individual’s behavior can become life-threatening. Residential treatment provides therapies under the supervision of a professional team of both psychiatrists and psychologists. Comprehensive outpatient programs have also proven quite helpful for people suffering from severe OCD symptoms. Such programs can last for several weeks.
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)
Deep brain stimulation has been approved by the FDA to be used for treating OCD in individuals who didn’t respond well to the traditional treatment methods. Besides, they have to be over 18 years of age to be able to receive the treatment. In deep brain stimulation, electrodes are implanted within certain regions of the brain. The electrical impulses produced by these electrodes may help to manage the abnormal impulses.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
Transcranial magnetic stimulation has been clinically proven to reduce OCD symptoms. TMS therapy for OCD is usually given to individuals in the age group of 22 to 68 years when traditional treatment approaches don’t yield effective results. It is a non-invasive procedure in which the nerve cells of the brain are subjected to a magnetic field from an electromagnetic coil to stimulate them and improve the condition. During the procedure, the coil is placed against the scalp near the forehead of the individual.
If you are considering any of the intensive care procedures, it is recommended to talk to your doctor about all the pros and cons and possible health risks before going for them.
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