A Holistic & Healthy Approach to Treating OCD
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages. OCD is characterized by obsessions (recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are intrusive and cause anxiety or distress) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors or mental acts that someone feels they must do to relieve the stress or distress caused by the obsessions).
People with OCD often have difficulty functioning daily due to the time-consuming nature of their obsessions and compulsions. Many different treatment options are available for OCD, including medication, therapy, and self-help techniques.
Some of the Most Cutting-Edge Treatments for OCD Include:
- Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy: This therapy involves exposing yourself to your fears (with the help of a therapist) and then learning how to resist engaging in your compulsions. This can be an effective treatment for OCD because it helps you to confront your fears head-on and learn how to manage them without resorting to your compulsions.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This type of therapy focuses on helping you change your thinking patterns and behaviors that contribute to your OCD. CBT can effectively treat OCD by teaching you new skills to deal with your obsessions and compulsions more constructively.
- TMS: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a newer treatment for OCD that involves using magnetic fields to stimulate the brain. TMS is thought to be an effective treatment for OCD because it can help to break the cycle of obsessions and compulsions. The globally-renowned Mayo Clinic describes TMS as a groundbreaking treatment for OCD:
‘The FDA approved a specific device (BrainsWay Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) to treat OCD in adults ages 22 to 68 years when traditional treatment approaches have not been effective. TMS is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of OCD. During a TMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed against your scalp near your forehead. The electromagnet delivers a magnetic pulse that stimulates nerve cells in your brain’.
- Stress Management: Stress management techniques can help you learn how to better cope with the stressors in your life that may trigger your OCD symptoms. This can be an essential part of treatment for OCD because reducing stress can help reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms.
- Residential and intensive outpatient treatment. People with severe disabilities may find it helpful to have comprehensive treatment programs that focus on ERP therapy principles for people who are unable to function due to severe symptoms. These programs usually last for several weeks.
- Medication: There are several types of medications that patients can use to treat OCD, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and antipsychotics. Medication can be an effective treatment for OCD because it can help reduce the symptoms associated with the disorder. However, there are many unwanted side-effects with medication. This includes nausea, weight loss/gain, sexual dysfunction and others.
- Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). The FDA approved DBS to treat OCD in adults over 18 years old who are not responding to traditional treatments. DBS involves placing electrodes in certain parts of your brain. These electrodes can produce electrical impulses, which may be used to regulate abnormal impulses. Once again, this surgical procedure is not without risks. Surgical site risk of infection or accidents may occur.
Treatments & Cures for OCD
Some people may find that their OCD symptoms are significantly reduced after receiving treatment. In contrast, others may still experience some symptoms but be able to manage them in a way that allows them to live relatively normal everyday lives. With regards to the question: Can OCD be cured? it is important to remember that everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another.
Over time, obsessive-compulsive symptoms tend to fluctuate. Many people with OCD believe that their OCD will fluctuate over time. As mentioned, obsessive-compulsive behaviors never disappear. They require constant management.
Obsessive-compulsive symptoms can often be caused by general life stress. High stress can lead to an increase in obsessive-compulsive behavior. However, with low stress levels, the individual might feel their OCD is gone or return to baseline. Therefore, patients may require ongoing treatments to manage OCD better over time.
Although symptoms of obsessive-compulsive thinking style can fluctuate depending on stress levels, it is possible to develop a chronic or deteriorating course if you do not seek treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, many different treatment options are available. Talk to your doctor or mental health professional about what treatments may be right for you.