What are the treatment options for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Updated: May 17, 2018
  • Author: William M Greenberg, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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OCD is a chronic illness that usually can be treated in an outpatient setting. The mainstays of treatment of OCD include the use of serotoninergic antidepressant medications, particular forms of behavior therapy (exposure and response prevention and some forms of CBT), education and family interventions, and, in extremely refractory cases, neurosurgery.

Patients who have achieved remission of symptoms with behavior therapy alone may never require medication and may instead need only to return to therapy if they have an exacerbation of their illness. Also, a subset of patients has been treated with a combined approach; these patients can discontinue medication, maintaining a remission with behavioral interventions alone. However, many patients require ongoing medication to prevent relapse.

Consider hospitalization for a patient with OCD if a suicide risk exists or if the individual’s symptoms are sufficiently severe to impair the patient's ability to care for himself/herself safely at home. If inpatient care is necessary, admitting the patient to a psychiatric unit whose staff is familiar with OCD and behavioral therapy is preferable.

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