Good treatment for OCD is available

There are two types of treatment that have strong scientific evidence: medication and a specific type of therapy called Exposure and Response Prevention. Both of these need to be delivered according to guidelines that are specific to OCD. When they’re delivered according to these best-practice guidelines, they can both be very effective.

It’s up to you and your doctor which treatment you receive. Below we list the benefits and limitations to both types. Research suggests that the best outcomes happen when people combine the two.

Medication

Medication is a relatively low-cost option and can be quite effective. It also doesn’t take much effort. The limitations are that some people experience side effects and if the person does not also do therapy they can easily relapse when they stop the medication.

Most medications for OCD are actually classified as “antidepressants” but the dosage can be very different when treating OCD (compared to anxiety or depression). A medical doctor with experience in prescribing for OCD will know what dosage is appropriate. They can also work to find the right medication that balances the benefits and potential side effects. You can use our clinician search to find a doctor with a special interest in managing medication for OCD.

Exposure and Response Prevention

Exposure and Response Prevention (“ERP”) is a specific type of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy that can be highly effective in treating OCD. Symptom reductions can be maintained long after therapy has finished. ERP also does not have side effects like some medication. However, it requires more time and effort and is typically more expensive than medication.

ERP involves confronting what you fear (in a safe and supportive way) then learning to stop the rituals that get you stuck in a loop. Not all psychologists have specific skills in providing this type of treatment. Just because they offer cognitive behaviour therapy does not mean they know how to implement ERP. You can use our clinician search to find a therapist that offers ERP.