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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment: Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment? How is the treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?) Are there any side effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long does it take to recover? What is the price of the treatment in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is the treatment?

A common disorder, mostly found in elderly people, Obsessive compulsive disorder, is excessive thoughts (obsessions) of people relating various things that lead to repetitive behaviours (compulsions). It is a type of mental illness that is driven by unreasonable thoughts and unwarranted fears, referred to as “obsessions,” to perform repetitive behaviors, referred to as “compulsions.” This condition can be helped with treatment, but can't be cured.

Symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder address several sections of the life of an individual. It includes behavioural, mood as well as psychological obsessions in a person. Compulsive behaviour, agitation, compulsive hoarding, hyper vigilance, impulsivity, meaningless repetition of own words, repetitive movements, ritualistic behaviour, social isolation, or persistent repetition of words or actions are symptoms of behavioural obsessions. OCD is also called as anxiety disorder as patients are often struck by anxiety, apprehension, guilt, or panics. They have a habit of feeling depression, fear and can go over thoughts repeatedly unreasonably. People with OCD also show signs of food aversion or nightmares.

There are two main treatments for OCD patients. These are psychotherapy and medications. Often, treatment is most effective with a combination of these. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy is most helpful for patients with OCD. A type of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) has the strongest positive impact on patients. This exposes the person to his or her fears and helps them to gradually learn ways of coping up. Psychiatric medications, most commonly, antidepressants can help control the obsessions and compulsions of OCD.

How is the treatment done?

Psychologists and mental health specialists may prescribe a few tests to diagnose OCD. It is often difficult to distinguish obsessive compulsive disorder with the other mental disorders as the symptoms mainly include depression and guilt. The diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is based on the symptoms, medical history, a physical exam and also a mental health assessment. Early detection and proper treatment is very vital in improving the conditions of OCD.

The most effective treatment of OCD is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This therapy uses two scientifically based techniques to change a person’s behavior and thoughts: exposure and response prevention (ERP) and cognitive therapy. This treatment includes the therapist encouraging the patient to engage in exposure exercises during the office sessions itself. With this, the person will get easier with the environment outside the office premises gradually. As the name suggests, in exposure therapy, the person is exposed to their obsessions and asked not to perform the compulsions. With repeated practice, our body’s ability to habituate will eventually lessen the anxiety without doing anything but letting time pass. The main purpose of this therapy is to translate exposure to the real world. This will help the person resist compulsions and embrace uncertainty rather than fear it.

Imaginal exposure (IE), sometimes referred to as visualization, is a helpful way to alleviate enough anxiety. The therapist may create a visualization that elicits the anxiety in the patient. With such virtual pictures in mind, the person may learn to cope up better in real life situations.

Our brain sends messages according to which we function. With the cognitive therapy, the therapist helps the person to understand that the brain is sending error messages and that he needs to respond in a new way to control the obsessions and compulsions.

Apart from these, medicines and counselling sessions are also a part of the treatment. Antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (for example, Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), or sertraline (Zoloft) are prescribed to the patients for treating OCD. Consistency is important for both counselling and medicines, otherwise the patients show symptoms of relapse.

Psychosurgery is used to alleviate symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder in patients who fail to respond to medications or behavioral therapy. Four types of brain surgery have proven effective in treating OCD patients. The first one is called anterior cingulotomy. The second surgery is known as anterior capsulotomy. The third and fourth procedures are called the gamma knife and deep brain stimulation (DBS) respectively.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Psychiatrists or mental health counsellors should be consulted if a person feels depressed, sad or hopeless; a morose and gloomy mentality takes over the person and he is unable to feel happiness in anything, feels anxiety, guilt or worried, has trouble sleeping at night. Also, people must seek immediate care when this disorder takes on the individual to a greater level of risk and the person feels or has thoughts of suicide. People often have thoughts of hurting oneself or the others when obsessed and can find no way to get over it.

Are there any side effects?

The psychiatric medications prescribed for obsessive compulsive disorder have potential side effects. In some cases, children, teenagers and young adults may have an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior when taking antidepressants. This is especially noticed in the first few weeks after starting the medicines or when the dose is changed. However, this goes away as the body gets adjusted to it. Some antidepressants can also cause dangerous reactions in the body when combined with certain medications or herbal supplements. These medicines may also at times have withdrawal symptoms in an individual. Other possible side effects include blood pressure changes, breathing problems, depersonalisation, headache, sweating, concentration problems etc.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

OCD is a chronic disorder that cannot be cured permanently. It stays forever with the person but its effects and hindrances can definitely be lessened with treatment. After the treatment and counselling, it is important for the patient to prevent a further relapse of the symptoms. Medicines and other advices should be maintained as directed by the doctor. Techniques and skills acquired that help manage symptoms should be practiced regularly to improve conditions. Coping up with this disorder may seem challenging but it is advisable to stay focused on the goals, learn ways to control stress and anxiety. These help the people with OCD do better with their lives.

How long does it take to recover?

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a chronic disorder that can only be treated for the betterment. After the treatment, time for recovery depends on the individual and severity of the disorder. A patient can take eight months to bring it under control or can extend for years to cope up with it. On an average, the uncomplicated cases of OCD takes from about six to twelve months to be successfully treated. If the symptoms are severe and the person works at a slow pace, it can take much longer. Also, some people need to work on the rehabilitation of their lives after the OCD is brought under control.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

OCD is a chronic disorder and can also show signs of relapses when proper care is not taken. Repetitive treatments or severe symptoms may incur heavier costs. Otherwise, the routine counselling sessions for treating OCD is not that costly.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

OCD is a chronic disease that lasts lifelong with the patients. There is no permanent treatment to this except that it can be cured to some extent with therapies and medicines. Regular practice of healthy habits and a positive outlook help people cope up with their obsessions.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Taking care of oneself every day is very important in dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Apart from medical treatment, for minor symptoms, the person can seek self care with the help of family members and loved ones to treat this disorder. As anxiety is one vital symptom of OCD, the person needs to calm anxiety first. This can be done by taking slow, deep breaths and assuring oneself of control and confidence. A warm bath and some soothing music also help to relax the mind.Taking a walk or doing some other exercises outdoor will not only expose people but also help to overcome the fears gradually. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding certain foods or drinks like caffeine and alcohol may also help to reduce stress.Also, homeopathic medicines can help to reduce symptoms of OCD in a person.

Popular Questions & Answers

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MB BS, MD - Psychiatry, MBA - Healthcare
Psychiatrist, Davanagere
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1 person found this helpful

How treat obsessive compulsive disorder naturally. Whether antidepressants medicine like SSRI have any serious side effects how long should we take these medicines.

Psychiatrist, Bangalore
OCD can be treated with exposure and response prevention (ERP) if it is mild without depression. SSRI has side effects like every other drug. It needs to be continued for many months, may be two years or so
1 person found this helpful

Hi Sir, When I leave a place with which I am well attached, After reaching another place I feel that the place which I stayed is not real and was a dream. What does that mean. Is it a mental problem.

Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery (BAMS), PGDHHM
Ayurveda, Jammu
Indigestion at mental level. Monitor you biological clock. Use 2 drops of almond oil. Per nostril at bed time.

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