Treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) varies according to how much the condition is disturbing your everyday life. There are two main strategies that are used as treatment for OCD. These include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medication.
CBT is a common treatment for OCD. It involves graded exposure and response prevention (also known as ERP). This is a therapy that requires you to face up to your fears. You are encouraged to allow the obsessive thoughts to happen and just let them be - without "putting them right" or "neutralising" them through compulsive behaviour. If your OCD is having a limited effect on your life, you are likely to receive a short course of CBT with ERP.
A short course of CBT is likely to take around 10 hours over a period of weeks and you will be encouraged to do ‘homework’ in between sessions. The therapy tends to involve breaking down the problems you face into separate components – so you will scrutinise your own thoughts, physical feelings and actions.
Therapists tend to favour an exposure approach – meaning that you will look at what triggers attacks and just let it be. You have to fight against the urge to break into your compulsive behaviour pattern. It sounds difficult but it is completed in stages and exposure is minimal in the first place. You can then graduate to more complex tasks, until eventually you have overcome all of the situations that make you anxious or trigger your OCD.
Where OCD is having much more of a significant impact on your everyday life, you are more likely to be prescribed medication of some description. Medication as a treatment for OCD works by altering the balance of chemicals in your brain and thereby controlling your symptoms. The most common type of medication for OCD is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
You may be aware that SSRIs are a type of antidepressant, however they are effective as a treatment for OCD. The doses used in OCD are usually higher than those used for depression. People who have moderate to severe OCD need to take an SSRI for at least 12 months, and it tends to take 12 weeks for any improvement to be seen.
Where a short course of CBT with ERP proves ineffective, it is likely that treatment will be increased in stages until a happy medium is found. In some cases patients move from CBT to SSRIs or a combination of the two, but in any case it can take months for treatments to really become obviously effective.
If your OCD is extremely debilitating, another option is to be referred to a specialist mental health doctor.
Bach Flower Remedies offer a range of individual flower treatments that are effective in treating certain symptoms linked to OCD such as anxiety, irritability and fatigue. If you would prefer to have a special blend commissioned that mixes a number of flower remedies and treats a range of symptoms, contact us for a friendly and informal chat.
Are you unsure which Bach flowers can help you? Contact Tom for free advice.