bsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be a difficult condition to manage, as there are no simple solutions. Treatment usually involves a combination of different techniques and different professionals. Medication is one way to help manage the symptoms of OCD. But it’s not the only way. OCD is a type of anxiety disorder in which people experience frequent, disturbing thoughts called obsessions, and perform specific rituals or habits called compulsions as a result of those obsessions in an attempt to relieve anxiety. The rituals or habits tend to neutralize the obsessiveness but not by much.
That’s why OCD sufferers continue performing these rituals over and over again, almost every day. These activities may appear strange or even gross to others but they make sense to those with OCD. These behaviors may include things like excessive handwashing, cleaning until everything looks perfect, avoiding specific colors or numbers, counting objects over and over again, hoarding objects that don’t appear useful or valuable — the list goes on. While many people with OCD recognize that their actions aren’t rational or productive, they feel unable to stop them on their own because their obsessions are so strong and unsettling.
What Medications Help With OCD?
There are many different medications that have been proven to help relieve the symptoms of OCD. The most common OCD medications are antidepressants which are used to treat the underlying chemical imbalance in the brain that causes OCD. Antidepressants increase serotonin or other chemicals in the brain that help regulate mood and obsessive thoughts.
Mood stabilizers and anxiety medications may also be prescribed in addition to an OCD antidepressant. Among the most common OCD medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) serotonin-specific repetitive behaviors (SSRIs). Other medications that may help with OCD include antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medications), and benzodiazepines.
How Do Medications Help?
OCD is often treated with antidepressants because medication that impacts the chemical imbalance in the brain that causes OCD. Medications that impact serotonin, norepinephrine, or dopamine can help treat OCD. Most OCD medications work in different ways. Some increase serotonin while others impact norepinephrine or dopamine.
The specific effect of a given medication is determined by how it impacts the brain. In general, antidepressants help to regulate mood and obsessive thoughts in OCD patients. Since OCD is often treated with antidepressants, people may mistakenly think that OCD is a mood disorder. OCD is not a mood disorder.
SSRIs: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
Among the most common OCD medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and serotonin-specific repetitive behaviors (SSRIs). SSRIs are one of the commonly used OCD medications. SSRIs impact serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood. When serotonin is reduced in the brain, a person may experience negative emotions and obsessive thoughts. SSRIs increase serotonin levels in the brain to help regulate mood, reduce obsessive thoughts, and reduce anxiety in OCD patients.
SNRIs: Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors
Another common OCD medication is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRIs). These medications impact serotonin and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters that help regulate mood, which is helpful in treating OCD symptoms.
SGAs: Serotonin-Specific Repetitive Behaviors
Another OCD medication is serotonin-specific repetitive behaviors (SSRIs). As the name suggests, this medication helps to deal with serotonin-specific repetitive behaviors in OCD patients.
Other Medications That May Help With OCD
There are many other medications that may help with OCD. Depending on an OCD patient’s symptoms and specific needs, their doctor may prescribe one of the medications listed above or prescribe a different OCD medication. SSRI: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often prescribed for OCD patients. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. An imbalance of serotonin may trigger obsessive thoughts, compulsions, and anxiety.
SSRIs help to increase serotonin to bring it back to a normal level. Tricyclic Antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressants are another type of OCD medication that may help reduce OCD symptoms. Like SSRIs, they increase serotonin.
However, they also reduce norepinephrine and dopamine levels, so they aren’t typically considered first-line OCD treatment. They are more often prescribed for specific OCD symptoms, such as tic disorders or eating disorders. MAOI: Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, are another type of OCD medication.
MAOIs can have side effects, though, so they aren’t commonly used.
Does Medication Have Side Effects?
All medications have side effects, but it’s important to note that these side effects may be different for different people. In fact, it’s common for people to experience different side effects with different medications. Common side effects of OCD medications include gastrointestinal upset, drowsiness, sexual side effects, and weight gain. OCD medications may also cause a buildup of serotonin that can lead to serotonin syndrome, a condition that can be fatal.
So, Is Medication the Answer for OCD?
All in all, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition that impacts a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. For those who have OCD, these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are experienced as excessive and difficult to manage. Fortunately, medication can help with the symptoms of OCD. There are many different types of medication that have been proven to help. It’s important to note that medications don’t treat the root cause of OCD. Rather, they treat the symptoms. As a result, the person will need to continue taking the medication for as long as they are experiencing symptoms. With proper treatment, most people with OCD will be able to manage their condition and lead fulfilling and productive lives.