Learn more about OCD and OCD treatment.
What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that has two main features:
- Obsessive thoughts are recurring, invasive, and unwanted ideas, urges, or images. These thoughts may be experienced as highly unpleasant, and they may be accompanied by feelings of anxiety, fear, or guilt.
- Compulsive behaviors are actions that are intended relieve or get rid of the obsessive thoughts. Compulsions can include excessive washing of hands, checking repeatedly (for example, checking to make sure the stove is turned off), counting, ordering, hoarding, and touching things repetitively. While compulsions provide a sense of relief in the short term, they tend to reinforce the obsessive thoughts.
How is OCD Treated?
Fortunately, effective OCD treatment is readily available. Research has shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and related approaches such as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) are the most effective types of OCD treatment:
- A meta-analysis of all CBT clinical trials indicated that CBT was more effective for OCD treatment than medication alone
- The Mayo Clinic notes that anxiety medications work best if combined with CBT
- CBT has been shown to treat OCD completely in some individuals
- Dramatic improvements in quality of life are achievable via CBT
- A recent study by Dr. Edna Foa showed that CBT had lasting effects 12 months after therapy ended
Additional information about OCD treatment and therapy is also available through the International OCD Foundation.