Obsessive-compulsive Disorder: Treatment Methods Explored


Are you aware that between 2.0-2.5% of the global population is affected by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? Though OCD cannot be prevented, with an early diagnosis and treatment, it is very much possible to reduce the symptoms and their effects on a person’s life. In the article, we explore the various treatment methods available for OCD.

Top 5 Treatment Methods For OCD

1. Psychotherapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that has been found effective among several people diagnosed with OCD. It involves exposure and response prevention (ERP) where a person is gradually exposed to a feared object or obsession. An example is dirt. It also includes making the person learn various techniques to resist the urge to do his/her compulsive rituals. Though it involves effort and practice, ERP helps people achieve a better quality of life once it is learned how to manage their obsessions and compulsions.

2. Medications

There are certain psychiatric medications available that aid in controlling the obsessions and compulsions associated with OCD. The initial stages of treatment start with an antidepressant. Let’s take a look at the antidepressants approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  • Clomipramine (Anafranil) – It is recommended for children 10 years and older and adults.
  • Fluvoxamine – This medicine is for children 8 years and older and adults.
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac) – It is for children 7 years and older and adults.
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) – This medicine is prescribed only to adults.
  • Sertraline (Zoloft) – This medicine is for children 6 years and older and adults.

3. Deep brain stimulation (DBS)

There are certain cases where it may be difficult to treat OCD using medication and psychotherapy. In such patients, Deep brain stimulation (DBS) comes into the picture. It is an advanced surgical treatment in which electrical impulses are applied. Let’s check how it works.

Using a brain scan, medical experts locate the part of the brain that is causing symptoms in the patient. Following that two electrodes are implanted into that area. In addition to that, a neurostimulator is also implanted near the collarbone. It is a small device similar to a pacemaker and its function is to deliver mild electrical signals. The next step involves connecting the electrodes which carry the electrical current to the neurostimulator. This system helps the medical experts to send electrical signals to the patient’s brain.

DBS is effective in 60% of the patients. It is considered to be a safe and effective treatment method and has also received the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment-resistant OCD under a Humanitarian Device Exemption.

4. Intensive outpatient and residential treatment programs

Comprehensive treatment programs are available that focus on ERP therapy principles. Such programs work better for those OCD patients who struggle with being able to function due to the severity of their symptoms. Generally, these programs last for several weeks.

5. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

There are certain patients among whom traditional treatment methods are not effective. For those categories of adults falling between 22 to 68 years of age, the FDA has approved a specific device (BrainsWay Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) for the treatment of OCD. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a noninvasive procedure in which magnetic fields are used to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. This aids in improving the symptoms of OCD. During this process, an electromagnetic coil is placed against the patient’s scalp near the forehead. It works in such a way that the electromagnet delivers a magnetic pulse that stimulates nerve cells in that person’s brain.

Tips For Tackling OCD

The key to tackling OCD is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Getting an adequate amount of quality sleep, having healthy food, exercising, and spending time with people can contribute to one’s overall mental health positively. Also doing basic relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, visualization, and massage is found to be effective in relieving the stress and anxiety associated with OCD.


Hope the article offers valuable insights into the various treatment methods for OCD. As you know, though OCD cannot be cured, the treatment methods discussed above no doubt help control its symptoms to a great extent.


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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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