What You Need to Know About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
SymptomsPeople with obsessive-compulsive disorder may be plagued by persistent, unwelcome thoughts or images, or by the urgent need to engage in certain rituals. They may be obsessed with germs or dirt, and wash their hands over and over. They may be filled with doubt and feel the need to check things repeatedly.
(Click Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Symptoms for more information.)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder treatments combine medications and behavioral therapy (a specific type of psychotherapy). Several medications have proven effective in helping people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, including:
- Anafranil® (clomipramine)
- Prozac® (fluoxetine)
- Luvox® (fluvoxamine)
- Zoloft® (sertraline)
- Paxil® (paroxetine).
If one drug is not effective, others should be tried. A number of other medications are currently being studied.
A type of behavioral therapy known as "exposure and response prevention" is useful for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. In this approach, a person is deliberately and voluntarily exposed to whatever triggers the obsessive thoughts, and then is taught techniques to avoid performing the compulsive rituals and to deal with the anxiety.
Depression or other anxiety disorders may accompany obsessive-compulsive disorder, and some people with the condition also have eating disorders. In addition, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder may avoid situations in which they might have to confront their obsessions, or they may try unsuccessfully to use alcohol or drugs to calm themselves. If obsessive-compulsive disorder grows severe enough, it can keep someone from holding down a job or from carrying out normal responsibilities at home.