Behavioural therapy programme overview:
- Techniques involved are known as exposure and response prevention
- These techniques help confront fears and learn not to use compulsive behaviour
- The initial focus tackles smaller fears then gradually builds up
- The tasks are then to be practiced at home to reinforce the response prevention
- This programme results in reduced anxiety, which will then allow the rituals to stop
How long will the treatment take?
The length of treatment for OCD varies from 10 outpatient sessions upwards, depending on how serious or complex your condition is. You may need some follow-up sessions to encourage you to continue to use the skills you learned in your treatment.
What medication is available?
There are some antidepressant medications that can be very useful in OCD treatment. They reduce the obsessions and are useful when one of the symptoms of the condition is that you feel low. In severe cases, medication can make behavioural and psychological treatments more effective. They're not addictive and are safe to use over long periods of time. The medication used in OCD treatment is normally of a higher dose and needs to be taken for longer than medication prescribed for treatment of depression, so a psychiatrist should supervise use.
Does treatment work?
You may find the treatment difficult as you will need to confront your obsessional fears and stop your compulsive responses to these. But the most important thing is to realise that OCD help is available and effective in most cases. Therapists and other hospital staff are aware of your condition and will give as much support as possible. Carers and family members will be involved as appropriate, especially where you need support at home.
Self-help may be useful as the first stage of treatment or alongside other treatments. There are also many different self help books, leaflets and internet sites available. You need to find the right options for you. Self-help groups, like those supported by OCD Action, can be a useful support but they do not replace professional treatment. However, they can help sufferers and families understand that they are not alone, and offer valuable support and practical advice.
Contacting your GP is often the easiest way to get OCD help and further treatment. He or she may offer you counselling or refer you to a specialist for further assessment. This may lead to outpatient treatment or, if more serious, day or inpatient treatment.
If you're worried about talking to your GP, consider writing down your concerns and questions. You can:
- Take a friend or family member with you
- See another doctor in the practice
The type of professional support offered will depend on the services that are available in your area and the arrangements that our primary care trust (PCT) have with other health authorities or private providers. Treatment for OCD is also available privately through the Priory.