Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects about one in 40 adults in the United States and one in 100 children. Worldwide, OCD is one of the top 20 leading causes of illness-related disability for people between the ages of 15 and 44. While there isn’t a cure for OCD, most people are able to manage their symptoms effectively using a combination of therapies. If you suffer from OCD, there are a few things you can do to get the most out of your treatment.
Common Treatments for OCD
There are a few different types of treatments that are common for OCD. Mental health professionals usually recommend talk therapy, medication and lifestyle changes to help people with OCD manage their symptoms. However, alternative therapies, like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), have been proven to be effective for people who don’t get relief from conventional treatments. Here is what you can expect with each type of treatment.
Talk therapy is the cornerstone of most mental health treatment protocols. People with OCD deal with anxieties around certain situations that cause their obsessions and compulsions. Those negative feelings can be triggered by environmental factors, past traumas, abuse or other experiences that are often deep-rooted. By going to therapy, people with OCD are able to work through those past experiences that are contributing to their OCD.
Specifically, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often used to treat people with OCD. The goal of CBT is to help people understand their negative thought patterns and find ways to turn their negative thoughts into more positive beliefs. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is also used in OCD treatments. In ERP treatment, people are exposed to the anxieties that cause their obsession, and practice not performing their compulsions in order to ease their stress.
For people who deal with moderate to severe OCD, their therapist may prescribe a medication to help them control their symptoms on a biological level. Data shows that people who take medication see a 40-60% reduction in their symptoms, on average. Medication can help OCD sufferers reduce their anxieties, and therefore control their obsessions and compulsions.
The most commonly prescribed drugs for OCD are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which are a type of antidepressant that has been shown to reduce OCD symptoms. These include Zoloft, Lexapro, Celexa, Prozac, and Paxil, among others. It can take several weeks for these medications to kick in, so they don’t provide instant relief. Some people are able to stop taking their OCD medication after six months or a year, while others may need to be on a low-dose medication for their lifetime.
- TMS Therapy
For people whose OCD has not responded well to talk therapy, TMS therapy can be effective in reducing their symptoms. TMS uses electromagnetic waves to change the flow of information between neurotransmitters and neural pathways to alleviate anxiety in OCD sufferers. Studies have shown that people who undergo TMS therapy for OCD see a reduction in their distressing thoughts after four weeks of treatment.
A TMS session lasts about 18 minutes, and is done in an outpatient setting. It doesn’t require any anesthesia, and there is no downtime after the session. The side effects of TMS are very minimal, although some people report a mild headache after their treatment session. Most people will receive treatment for three to six weeks, depending on the severity of their OCD.
In addition to clinical therapies, self-care is also important when dealing with OCD. Things like eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly can reduce anxieties that trigger OCD obsessions and compulsions. These are lifestyle changes that OCD sufferers should make in order to manage their symptoms for the long haul. Self-care is also important to help people with OCD avoid developing related disorders, like depression.
Getting the Most From Your OCD Treatment
If you suffer from OCD, seeking professional treatment is important. Having a solid foundation of therapy, medication, self-care, and alternative therapies will most likely be effective. However, there are also some things you can do in order to get the most from your treatment.
- Be honest about your OCD
First, don’t pretend that your OCD doesn’t exist. Ignoring your condition will only give you more anxiety and make your symptoms worse.
- Accept your symptoms
Don’t be alarmed or caught off guard when your symptoms do arise. You should expect to deal with symptoms every day, whether you experience them or not. Accepting your obsessions and compulsions and being prepared for them to happen is important.
- Don’t resist your thoughts
When you’re experiencing obsessions and compulsions, you might try to stop them from happening. But when you start to feel anxious, just let the feelings run their course rather than fighting it. Know that it’s ok to feel what you’re feeling. This is one of the reasons why having a mindfulness meditation practice is so beneficial. Mindfulness teaches you how to observe your thoughts without attaching yourself to them.
- Be patient with your treatment
Know that OCD treatment won’t make your symptoms go away overnight. Give yourself some time to improve, and make sure you’re being consistent with therapy, medication and any other treatments you’re receiving.
- Recognize your success
With a commitment to therapy, you will start to notice a decrease in your anxieties and OCD symptoms. However, it takes hard work. When you make progress, take the time to recognize and celebrate it. Small victories are key to making big progress in your recovery journey.
OCD Treatment in Los Angeles
At Pulse, we offer TMS therapy for people who suffer from treatment-resistant OCD. If you’re interested in receiving TMS therapy, you’ll first meet with our psychiatrist to determine if TMS is the right treatment for you. Treatment sessions are performed in our outpatient center in Los Angeles, in a comfortable and safe environment. All of our TMS treatments are administered by clinicians who are highly trained in TMS therapy.
To make an appointment with our psychiatrist, give us a call at (310) 846-8460 or get in touch with us via email.