Prescription Medications for OCD

medication OCDPrescription medications for OCD include Prozac, Luvox, Paxil, Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, BuSpar, Ativan and Zoloft

Use with caution

For treatment of anxiety disorders, including OCD, numerous antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications offer a broad-spectrum of choices and effectiveness.

The first specifically approved prescription medication for OCD treatment was the tricyclic antidepressant Anafranil. Since that time the SSRIs Prozac, Luvox,  PaxilZoloft have been approved. Click here to check side effects of these medications

Anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines are meant to relieve symptoms within a short time. These drugs include Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan. They are believed (meaning the jury is still out) to have relatively few side effects, with drowsiness, feeling hung over and loss of coordination as the most common side effects.  Fatigue and mental slowing or confusion can also occur. These effects make it dangerous for people taking benzodiazepines to drive or operate some machinery.

The effective duration of Benzodiazepines may vary from “as-needed” basis to 3 times a day. Dosage is generally started at a low level and gradually raised until symptoms are diminished or removed. Dosages vary depending on symptoms and individual body chemistry. It is important to work closely with physicians to find amounts appropriate for the individual.

Abstain from alcohol while taking benzodiazepines. The interaction between benzodiazepines and alcohol can lead to serious and possibly life-threatening complications. Keep in mind these are powerful narcotics whose total effects can be unpredictable.

People taking benzodiazepines for weeks or months may develop tolerance for and dependence on these drugs. Abuse and withdrawal reactions are also possible, and comparable to those of drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and alcohol. For these reasons, the medications are generally prescribed for brief periods of time; days or weeks and sometimes just for stressful situations or anxiety attacks. However, some patients may need long-term treatment.

It is essential to talk with the doctor before discontinuing a benzodiazepine. A withdrawal reaction may occur if the treatment is stopped abruptly. Symptoms may include anxiety, shakiness, headache, dizziness, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, or in extreme cases, seizures. A withdrawal reaction may be mistaken for a return of the anxiety because many of the symptoms are similar. Reduce dosage gradually before stopping completely.

Another medication specifically used for anxiety disorders is BuSpar. Unlike benzodiazepines, BuSpar must be taken consistently for at least 2 weeks to achieve an anti-anxiety effect and therefore cannot be used on an “as-needed” basis.

Beta blockers, medications often used to treat heart conditions and high blood pressure, are sometimes used to control “performance anxiety” when the individual must face a specific stressful situation—a speech, a presentation in class, or an important meeting. Inderal and Inderide are commonly used beta blocker.

Note: The side effects of the long term usage of these medications is never established during the approve process if antidepressants. While medications are assumed to be safe, users must remain vigilant to the state of their mental and physical health. Getting prescription medication takes virtually no effort, so many assume they must be safe.

Read the labels for most antidepressants and it will state some means of therapy should accompany the usage of these medications, especially for anxiety disorders. Medications on there own are not meant to solve anxiety problems and at best mask the symptoms. Even though this is a widely accepted fact, many medical institutions, physicians, and media outlets tend to imply these medications are the answer to today’s mental health issues.

Keep in mind most prescription medications for OCD are never tested for the use of children or women in pregnancy.

A consideration when trying any new medications for OCD

It has been estimated only 1 in 7 new drugs are superior to existing ones. This means millions will take the 6 in 7 new drugs that are no better and often less effective.  New medications are seldom tested properly for physical, mental and emotions risks. Remember at least 1.5 million US hospitalizations occur each year, with about 129,000 hospital deaths caused by serious drug reactions.



  1. Losarry DD

    Based on side effects and affectiveness, which would you say is better for stopping OCD, Zoloft or Buspar?

    • If you are going to take medications, work with a health professional in your area. All medications can be powerful, both in helpfulness and in side effects and they work differently for every individual. There is no simple answer and currently most medications are prescribed in a hit or miss fashion. If it works and the side effects are minimal, great. If they are don’t work, oops, lets try something else. Even if something works, eventually you should change medications as not to become dependant on them.

  2. After 20 plus years of dealing with OCD, I think I have tried all of the meds mentioned in your article, except for Ativan. Paxil worked for a while until the side effects became too much. The rest of these drugs (that’s what they are), sometime worked no better than a few shots of Jack Daniels (and Jack had less side effects and I felt more at ease with myself).
    I know some prescription manufacturers claim 80 to 90% success for those taking their meds, but I am not one of those statistics. I don’t know how they measure success, frankly I don’t care. They keep the OCD from blasting me, but it is still always there. Is that success? I don’t know, it doesn’t feel like it

    • I have always had an inner tension in me since childhood, with OCD tendencies, and very inclined to overeat. Paxil doesn’t seem to cut it. Any suggestions?

      • You have not mentioned trying therapy. Pills are not the long term answer to making changes in yourself. If your only approach to changing discomfort is going to be medication, you should talk to your primary health care professional as to what meds to take, since he (she) will be the one who will monitor your situation


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