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Severe OCD: What Are Your Treatment Options?

woman looking through blinds ocd

Many people struggle with a condition known as obsessive-compulsive disorder. They have thoughts that they are unable to control and engage in repetitive behaviors. The thoughts are persistent and intrusive, which leads the person to engage in repetitive behaviors. These behaviors work to reduce the person’s anxiety that is brought on by their thoughts.

woman looking through blinds ocd

Slightly more than two percent of American adults have OCD today, and as many as half of these adults find it has a significant negative impact on their lives. Their daily functioning is disrupted as a result of their thoughts and behaviors. Fortunately, OCD in adults is treatable.

The Severity of OCD

Men and women are both at risk of OCD. Some people develop it when they are very young, during the preschool years. Other people aren’t affected until late in life. However, the symptoms tend to be worse in those who are nine to 11 years of age and those who are 20 to 23 years of age. As many as half of OCD sufferers are diagnosed when they are juveniles. Less than one in ten is diagnosed after they turn 40.

Individuals who are diagnosed early in life have better outcomes. In fact, many have a spontaneous remission. For those who are first affected during adolescence or the later years, the symptoms tend to be more persistent.

Risk Factors

Genetics may play a role in the development of OCD, and researchers have determined the brains of those with OCD differ from the brains of those without this disorder. The neural circuit that connects the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex in the brain is overactive in those with OCD. Life experiences and certain personality traits might also play a role in who is diagnosed with this disorder. Many people with OCD also have co-occurring disorders.

Treating Severe OCD

Individuals struggling with OCD need prolonged treatment for the best outcomes. Medications are often used to treat this disorder. The doctor might prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Prozac or Paxil. Serotonin-Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, like Cymbalta, are an option, or the doctor might recommend tricyclic antidepressants. All medications used for treating OCD target serotonin.

Patients struggling with OCD may also take part in psychotherapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one option that is commonly used. It focuses on exposing the individual to known triggers and helping to resist the urge to respond to these triggers.

Anxiety management may also be used. This is a fairly new treatment option that is showing good results so far. The focus of this therapy is to help the person respond differently to intrusive thoughts rather than trying to reduce these thoughts.

When Should a Doctor Be Seen?

Any person who finds their intrusive thoughts and behaviors are interfering with daily life should make an appointment with their doctor. If the thoughts and behaviors are causing the person distress or take an hour or more each day, an immediate appointment is needed. The same holds if the individual is having suicidal thoughts.

OCD is a treatable condition. Doctors may use medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two when helping a person. For those with severe symptoms, intensive treatment options should be explored. This might include time spent in a mental health facility. With the right care, a person can overcome their OCD and live a higher quality of life. Make an appointment with a doctor today to begin receiving this help.

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