How to Stop OCD
OCD is a disorder marked by obsessive though, impulsive action, anxiety, and irrational thoughts and behaviors. Everyone has an intrusive thought now and again–even having a song stuck in your head is a kind of obsessive thought. People with OCD suffer from terrible obsessions that cause them to act on negative impulses. The difference between a person with OCD and a person who has a random intrusive thought is that OCD sufferers deal with obsessive thought on a nearly constant basis and have formed physical or mental coping mechanisms to deal with the stress caused by obsessive thought.
Effective treatments do exist, even for the most severe cases of obsessive compulsive disorder. Research into the causes and cures of OCD is constantly comping up with improved therapies and modalities to treat anxiety disorders of all types, including OCD.
There are generally two types of treatment available for any anxiety disorder like obsessive compulsive disorder–medication and psychotherapy. Patients can take part in either or combine the two–psychologists say that combined psychotherapy and medication therapy is the best way to treat anxiety disorders like OCD.
Medication Therapy for OCD
While obsessive or intrusive thoughts can be dealt with on your own, people who suffer from severe OCD usually have to take some sort of medication to get control of their thoughts.
SSRIs for OCD
The most commonly used and most effective medications are in a family called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs. These drugs do just what their name says–inhibit the amount of serotonin that your body absorbs. These drugs have names like Prozac (generic name fluoxetine, Paxil (generic name paroxetine, Zoloft (sertraline), and Luxoc (fluvoxamine).
Tricyclic Antidepressants for OCD
Another family of medication that is effective in treating OCD are tricyclic antidepressants. These antidepressant drugs are not “in vogue” right now, but many patients with OCD turn to drugs like Anafranil (generic name clomipramine) for relief from intrusive thoughts.
Benzodiazapenes for OCD
While controversial, the use of some benzodiazapenes is approved for treatment of anxiety related to OCD. These are drugs like Xanax (generic name alprazolam), Ativan (generic name lorazepam), and Valium (generic name diazepam).
Benzos slow the transmission between signals in your nerve endings–this causes a “calm” feeling. Since we know that OCD is a type of anxiety disorder, treating the underlying anxiety by producing a sense of calm in the patient with OCD can take a big bite out of even the toughest symptom set.
The danger of using benzos in treatment for OCD is that they are highly addictive, sold on the street and possibly dangerous for patients with self-harm in mind.
Why Is Medicine Used for OCD?
Medication treatment for OCD is meant to decrease the frequency or intensity of obsessive thought and compulsive actions. Depending on the drug, patients usually improve in about a month. Patients with OCD will have to continue their medication treatment indefinitely to avoid obsessive or compulsive behavior.
There are many kinds of behavioral therapy to help people with all levels of obsessive thought. Even people with mild thought intrusions can benefit from behavioral therapy.
The idea behind behavioral therapy is to change the way you act which will in turn change the way you think. There are different kinds of behavioral therapy, with names like “aversion therapy”, “thought stopping”, “thought switching”, “brain flooding”, and the like.
Behavioral therapy is a part of psychotherapy, and should be done in conjunction with either talk therapy or medication.
Psychotherapy, also called “talk therapy”, involves simply talking with a trained mental health professional, like a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor. The idea behind “talk therapy” treatment is to talk out your problems and learn from the mental health worker how to properly deal with anxiety based problems such as OCD.
Family Treatment for OCD
Sometimes, working with a psychiatrist or social worker isn’t enough. If a person suffering from OCD has a good family support system, they can get involved in treating the underlying cause of OCD–anxiety.
Here are some ways that friends and family can help treat and control a person’s OCD:
- Use diversion when anxiety rears its head. This includes simple activities like singing or whistling a favorite song, all the way up to larger diversion tactics meant to get the person with OCD to stop thinking about an unwanted intrusion.
- Placing limits on unacceptable behaviors. This is especially useful for children or teenagers with OCD. A parent may limit the number of times a day a child can indulge obsessive behaviors or compulsions. By gradually correcting unwanted behavior, the patient can focus on the real problems at hand.
- Reward and identify good behavior or actions. This will reduce compulsive behavior by literally “training a patient well.”
- Avoid disturbing topics or disturbing conversation that may lead to anxiety or OCD.
OCD is a serious problem that usually requires a combination of psychotherapy, medication therapy, and the support of friends and loved ones. OCD is possible to control, by the patient and the patient’s support system need to be prepared to battle OCD for life.
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