OCD – How medical treatment or counselling/psychotherapy can help – Part 4/6

Severe OCD is a difficult condition to treat. It is common for suffers of OCD to hide their symptoms and treat it like a secret problem. Nonetheless it is important to seek treatment from medical and psychological professionals. With perseverance most patients can expect some reduction in symptoms. However, it is common for some level of symptoms to persist despite treatment and relapse of symptoms in stressful times can be problematic.

OCD can often be successfully treated with a combination of medical and psychological interventions. People with OCD may be prescribed antidepressants know as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (such as Prozac or Zoloft) or tricyclic antidepressants (such as Anafranil). Improvements usually take up to 6 weeks and it is recommended that medication should be continued for a minimum or 6 months and sometimes for 1-2 years. If you are considering medication for OCD you should discuss this with a medical professional such as a general practitioner (GP) or psychiatrist.

Various psychological treatments may be helpful for reducing symptoms of OCD. Intervening at any point in the OCD cycle can improve functioning. Psychological treatment may address any of following;

  • Relaxation techniques
  • Clarifying and addressing underlying relationship problems
  • Thought-stopping techniques
  • Psychoeducation
  • Recognising and correcting unhelpful thinking patterns
  • Developing alternative coping strategies
  • Behavioural experiments (designed to encourage helpful thinking patterns)
  • Exposure to anxiety provoking experiences with the aim of reducing anxiety
  • Problem-solving
  • Recognising and relabeling obsessive thoughts
  • Correcting unhelpful beliefs that underlie OCD symptoms
  • Breaking negative reinforcement cycles of OCD
  • Reducing stress
  • Developing alternative anxiety management strategies
  • Developing emotion regulation skills
  • Identifying and addressing factors that trigger or exacerbate OCD symptoms
  • Developing realistic ways of viewing reality
  • Addressing feelings of ambivalence towards the self and building a more integrated and differentiated view of the self and others

Home Page – Sherry-Lee Smith Perth Psychologist