OCD Symptoms & Treatment Options

By: Jayson Tripp, MD


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (also known as OCD) affects roughly 2.2 million adults in the United States, or roughly 1% of the population. While many people with OCD experience both obsessions and compulsions, contrary to common belief, people with OCD don’t always experience both symptoms. In some cases, they may have compulsions to do something sporadically, like check the door, exercise, or clean, while most of the time they don’t think about it. In other cases, they may constantly worry about cleanliness, security, or health while they have no compulsions to act on their obsessions.

Most people with OCD have symptoms that fall into one of four categories

  • Cleanliness: Worries about contamination, appearances, washing
  • Security: Worries about hurting themselves, being hurt, safety
  • Perfection: Wants everything to be “just right”, touching up
  • Unwanted thoughts: often about religion, violence, morality, or physical nature. Often just obsessional, whereas the others are more likely to have accompanying compulsions

If these sound familiar to you or you’ve been diagnosed with OCD, what can you do to help decrease your symptoms and enjoy life more? Here are 3 different treatment options for effective improvement of OCD.

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) combines Exposure Res ponse Prevention (ERP) and Cognitive Therapy and is commonly used for treatment of anxiety disorders as well as OCD.

ERP involves being placed in situations that trigger their compulsions and/or obsessions and being asked not to act on them. Gradually, you’ll be asked to go longer before acting on your compulsion. Different therapists may recommend different paces, but overall, it should be up to you how quickly or often you practice ERP. Generally, ERP will be practiced both with your mental health professional and at home on your own.

Cognitive Therapy helps to retrain the signals your brain sends you in certain situations. For example, if you are in a triggering situation, you might think you need to perform a certain situation. Cognitive Therapy helps you to postpone your impulse, look at the scenario, and see what is going on more accurately, teaching your brain the action is unnecessary.

2. Medication

For some people, medication is an effective treatment. In OCD treatment, medication is often recommended in conjunction with therapy to reduce long term side-effects. The most common medication prescribed for OCD is SRIs , short for serotonin reuptake inhibitors. If OCD is related to serotonin imbalance, SRIs can be effective in helping to redirect your hormones to function correctly. This doesn’t usually retrain them long term, but can be effective as long as medication is taken regularly.

3. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Brainsway’s Deep TMS system was FDA approved  for treatment of OCD disorder in August of 2018 and has shown great results in treating people with OCD. For those who wish to go a medication free route, have compulsions that feel too strong to overcome with CBT, or haven’t experienced a positive response to other methods of treatment, TMS is an incredibly effective option. There have been multiple studies done on this treatment’s effectiveness , and in a clinical setting around more than 70% of patients experienced a greater than 30% reduction in their symptoms (based on the Y-BOCS baseline) and more than 60% experienced a sustained result of 30% reduction or more.

If you have OCD and are seeking treatment, contact us  for more information on the treatments we offer. If you have experience with a treatment not listed here, we’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below.

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*All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.