OCD Treatment

OCD Treatment

When seeking OCD treatment, many become obsessed about researching the topic. Typically those armed with knowledge have the upper hand, yet what starts out as great idea becomes excessive and stops people from taking action. Reading the same types of material over and over again becomes a safety net.

What to keep in mind when seeking OCD Treatment

When the obsessions become too intense, the mind looks for the simplest answer it can find, something familiar to that persons way of thinking. Often this becomes what’s been advertised the most, so it’s not surprising medication has become the first approach recommended for OCD treatment.

Yet it doesn’t mean OCD treatment should begin with medication. Numerous studies find SRI’s and antidepressants to be inadequate solutions for long term change. For the vast majority of people with OCD, some other form of OCD treatment will be required for any real and effective change to take place.

When they work, SRI’s and antidepressants can be wonderful, especially if side effects are minimal.  Yet SRI’s and antidepressants only address the symptoms of OCD. To often they are a short term solution to a larger problem. When the medication wears off, the symptoms return. The suffering may be minimized, but the core issues still persist and so do the unwanted thoughts.

Making Valued Choices

Antidepressants can buffer stress and change surface reactions, but are not meant to be long term answers for coping with life situations. They distance internal conflicts and sensitivities, but don’t help the person work through setbacks, concerns and discomforts. SRI’s don’t release emotional attachments or limiting beliefs. They may temporarily disrupt certain brain patterns, but it won’t be the answer for needed changes.

Effective therapy on the other hand focuses on changing patterns, behaviors and how someone processes thoughts and emotions. It is well know that OCD treatment strategies must minimize stress. This may require life style changes, not just implementing cookie cutter techniques.

Since everyone does OCD a little differently, no one type of therapy works for everyone. This can be a problematic for those wanting certainty. They already have enough uncertainty dealing with their obsessions. Thus many will avoid seeking any form of OCD treatment, because it feels safer than trying something different

What feels safe?

OCD treatment

Those suffering from anxiety disorders have a high need to feel safe, meaning they don’t venture into the unknown. But change requires one to step beyond ones comfort zone, outside preset patterns.

It’s been estimated that one third of all OCD patients will refuse ERP (exposure and response prevention), even though it is one of the most common treatments for OCD. The overwhelm of facing their fears head on seems too intense, especially if they already feel like they are at wits end.

Many who attempt ERP become adept at delaying obsessions till after the therapy or transform their compulsions into mental processes they can control during therapy. They are not trying to deceive the therapist, it is just an unconscious mechanism of resisting change. (1) So clients finish their OCD treatment, saying they have improved while still dealing with obsessions. They end up feeling like failures, believing nothing will help them change

So what will make effective OCD treatment?

Therapist must be able to show the clients how their thoughts processes can create choice and not be trapped by dead end loops of stagnant thinking and negative emotions. One must understand, those with OCD do not trust their own internal processes. They have been at odds with their thoughts and emotions. This lack of self-trust must be addressed. This is especially important for those who have done years of OCD treatment and are still stuck. They often have given up believing they are capable of change.

Any OCD treatment needs to break the change process down into doable steps. Those with OCD already tend to be overwhelmed, so the process must be within the grasp of the individual client

While OCD is often thought of as a thinking problem, it is actually driven by emotions. If the emotional aspects are overlooked and the treatment becomes of exercise of mental processes trying to control emotional reactions, the person is still in battle them self.

Look for a therapist who can help

  • Regain a balance in emotional and mental processes
  • Resolve core issues or sensitivities supporting the OCD? (there are usually quite a few)
  • Support the clients needs while helping them make the needed changes to diminish obsessions
  • Break down persistent habits or obsessions
  • Recognize subconscious deceptions the client has been feeding themselves
  • Build trust 

Many with OCD want immediate results and who can blame them. Overwhelming unwanted thought patterns can be unbearable to live with. All or nothing thinking patterns set in. But sometimes you have to start by realizing small steps are needed to achieve a healthy mindset. Some therapists tell their clients to think about something different, to control their thoughts, just try harder. This is not OCD treatment, just ineffective advice.

Of course there are economic considerations. Unaffordable treatment only creates additional stress and it is a reality many seeking treatment will have to contemplate. Unfortunately, avoiding treatment only ensures the OCD will continue on its current course.

Anyone seeking OCD treatment should recognize some personal changes in how they perceive life must be made. It can seem scary. Making improvements in oneself isn’t supposed to be easy, but that doesn’t make it impossible. Stepping into the unknown can feel risky, but staying stuck patterns can be downright debilitating.

Designed Thinking has been helping clients for over 15 years. OCD treatment is just a phone call away. 866-718-9995

For more information on the differences between choosing medication or therapy, click here.


 (1) Cordioli AV, Heldt E, Bochi DB, Margis R, Sousa MB, Tonello JF, Teruchkin B, Kapczinski F. Cognitive-behavioral group therapy in obsessive-compulsive disorder: a clinical trial. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2002;24(3):113-


  1. Jessica Ogilvie

    When I was a child, I had symptoms of the disorder. They were unbeknown to me. I lived at home and I thought I was just like everybody else. Becoming an adult, wife and mother, I can see that I’m not. The biggest wake up was entering the workforce. There the difference really shined. I live in a small town, doing things weirdly shows. I have often felt alone because I do not know how to explain my actions or the feeling that overcomes my being. When I do not have routine or know what to expect then I get this feeling that starts in my stomach and rises to my chest. It literally feels like my heart is trying to come out of my rib cage. My whole body feels like it is pulsing. I begin holding my breathe trying to combat the overwhelming feeling consuming my body. I was told that as a child I did that. Now as an adult I still do. I have learned to combat this feeling by holding my breath and taking calming breathes or walking away because I feel like if I feed into the feeling I would really hurt not a person but just hurt. However describing it sounds honestly a little insane. My thought patterns are also extreme as this disorder is. Either happy and calm or depressive and manic. I can understand why antidepressants are prescribed as treatment options but can also see why they do not work. Is OCD a chemical imbalance in the brain as depression or is it a mental disorder that one must learn to live with? Learning to control thoughts has proven to be the most difficult task as well as going with the flow. That is why focusing is so hard at times. I have also developed habits and rituals due to childhood experiences and traumatic events.I can not change them or I feel wrong or incomplete or like I missed something. I do not feel at ease until they are completed. This disorder is both a blessing and a curse. I choose to believe that it is a blessing. Curses will have no control over me because with God leading me I can control this not it control me. While I have chosen faith and belief in an almighty God that can help you overcome any obstacle set before you there are those that do not see it that way. So to them I say you can control it. It would be easier with God’s help, but you can change the unwilling. To all living with the disorder you are not alone. You can beat it. You can control it. Believe. Peace.

    • michael

      Thanks for your comments and insights. It is always interesting that people want to control their thoughts. Sure we can exert some influence on our thinking, but none of actually control our thoughts. However, many people have a better relationship with their thoughts and feelings than others. These people have integrated their thoughts and emotions instead of them being odds with each other.
      You can view you faith in the same way. God doesn’t control you, he gives you choice to have a relationship with him in some form or another. If that relationship works for you, you have a degree of harmony. If it doesn’t work, you are conflicted with this.
      As you continue your quest to better yourself, make sure you give some focus on how you relate to the things you like and dislike, to the things that stress you and those that don’t, for within this lies some of your answers to improvement.

  2. Why is it every site refers seeking treatment to a therapist if it isn’t a real illness. If therapist just tell you what to do, why isn’t there a site just outlining the things to do so we can avoid costly consultations

    • michael

      There are plenty of people (trained and otherwise) who will tell you what to do. That is cheap therapy when applied to OCD. You want to work with someone who will help you uncover the real sticking areas behind the obsessions, find better outcomes, release emotional discomfort and help you make needed changed. With OCD you need to change your relationship with yourself. One side of you pushing the rest of you around isn’t ever going to create a healthy life. Reading about something and working with someone who can guide you through difficulties can be very different expereinces. It’s like reading about parenting and being a parent, they don’t always match up.
      You can keep reading about OCD treatment or you can have the experience of making changes. Those are personal choices you will have to make

  3. Please, please help me. I have OCD in the area of spiritual issues. I fear I have not done what my church teaches to become born-again, a Christian. I sink into depression and cannot function in daily life. Whenever I get under extreme stress the OCD takes over my life. I have been treated with antidepressants for the last 27 years , but no therapy. Please
    offer me some kind of hope. where can I go for help? I live in Augusta, GA.
    I have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder with components of OCD. If I were not afraid of going to hell, I would kill myself. I am in psychic pain.

    • Carol
      Medication is not the long term answer to complex challenges such as OCD.It most certainly is not the cure. There is no easy answer and you are going to have to do some work. Why haven’t you seen a therapist? Is it against your Christain beliefs?
      See you really want to work with a therapist. Religious based obsessions can be aweful and overwhelming and they will not go away on their own. They will not disappear if you pray harder or try to be a better Christain. That is not the problem, Work with someone and expect it to take some time. You can change, you can regain a grasp of sanity to put your life in order and still be a good Christain, but you have to do things differently than you have. Are you willing to do that or are you waiting for a miracle. God helps those who help themselves and you have to help yourself in working with someone who can help you

  4. Hello, I have done probably way too much research on OCD and all the types one can get. I’ve had OCD since I was younger. It started with germs. It went away for a while and now it has been back full throttle for 1 1/2 years. I suffer mainly with compulsions (locking doors, shutting off lights, etc.) I fear that it I don’t do the compulsions something bad will happen to someone I love. The other types of OCD I deal with are HOCD and relationship OCD. I am in a relationship with a man I love very much. I get fears that he could cheat on me. I also had a fear that I cheated on him and I just don’t remember it. I know I would never cheat on him and I know I didn’t but my OCD mind won’t listen. I get so frustrated with this disorder. I’m on Zoloft but it doesn’t really help at all. I just want advice on how to Cope and deal with this stupid disorder.

    • Alisa
      When some one wants to learn how to cope and deal with a long term major issue, either they don’t believe they can change or they don’t want to. So first, your OCD can change, if you learn to change how you process aspects of your emotions and thoughts.
      You just want advice, some magical technique or idea that will make everything better. I wish I had it, but it doesn’t exist. What will work is therapy and you will need to find someone you area comfortable with, who is within your price range and that can help you make important differences in your life.
      Research will not help. More knowledge will not help. OCD is driven by your emotions, not your mind. It is a complex challenge and there are no easy answers, but everyone can improve, everyone can alter how their subconscious processes life expereinces and what we tend to hold on to. You have OCD, you want it to stop. Put in the effort you deserve to change yourself. Make a commitment to yourself to get out of your own ideas of how things should happen so you can get better and work with someone

  5. I am confused, in your post on finding treatment for OCD, you said one must go back and deal with past issues to over come OCD. I can pin point some of my obsessions to events in my childhood. However, I read on another site that it is not necessary to go back and find the causes. What is you take on this? I must though that you seem to understand a lot of the ins and outs of the OCD mind.

    • Genevieve
      You ask an important question. OCD is a complex challenge, it can have many faces and many ideas have been attributed to its cause and like many things, experts can disagree
      One of the first questions to ask when talking aboutOCD treatment is “How are you going to define a cure?” Not long ago, the answer for most in the medical profession was a 30% reduction in symptoms. Well if you have ever talked to someone with OCD, a 30% reduction of symptoms is not at all satisfying, it’s just not enough. Mind you the 30% reduction was treatment that included the use of medication.
      Classifying OCD as an illness in the same way we classify a cold or cancer may make sense for insurance companies, but it does leave holes as an approach giving people a real chance to change their approach towards stresses, anxieties and other mental and emotional processes.
      Being able to retrain thought processes or more importantly, how we allow emotions to flow more effectively in stressful situations is the approach taken here. Not everyone has to agree, but we feel comfortable in the format and clients do find they can process life in a way where they mind does not get locked down in disruptive patterns.
      I hope this answers your question

  6. Hi there,
    I have had OCD for years. I went for counselling for a few months and it helped to some degree…but I still have it quite badly.
    My biggest problem are germs and dirt and a messy kitchen. I won’t let my husband clean or do any cooking. I do all the cooking and cleaning because I feel he will make too much of a mess in the kitchen and he won’t clean it up to my standards. So I do it all.
    When he comes in from working on the yard…he has to strip in entrance way and go directly to the shower. Then I wash down the floors and entrance way until I am satisfied that it is all clean.
    The only way for me to not be so obsessed with these things is to just let him walk into the house after he works outside? Let him cook?? I think my anxiety level will go through the ceiling!!!!!

    • Contaimination obsessions can be one of the more challenging obsessions to overcome.. A few months of therapy probably was not enough for you. Helping your obsessions somewhat is not enough. I suggest you either pick up where you left off or try another therapist. Doing nothing will not help you better your situation

  7. I have a 12 yr old son with OCD, specifically a fear of vomiting/getting sick. His compulsive behavior is avoidance of situations that will make him sick, which is most everything, including eating. He has not been to school in over a month. This includes participation in his sporting events. He can recall the two specific times 4 and 8 years ago where he got sick/vomitted. He thinks “it’s time now for him to get sick”. I’m wondering if hypnosis would be beneficial for something like this? He has seen a psychiatrist who, of course, put him on meds. They have been disastrous. Both only increased his anxiety, leading to full blown panic attacks. He even asked me to get a gun and kill him to end everything. He also has a PhD psychologist who is starting ERT but this is being done via Skype as he cannot get to her office without panic attacks. This has not proven successful either as of yet. I’m desperate to help him.
    Any suggestions would be helpful.

    • Renee
      It is always difficult for someone to be stuck in a deep fear, it’s even worse for children. It sounds like your son is suffering from Emetophobia, which is the fear of vomitting. Whether it is OCD or something else, it sounds as if his symptoms are consuming him and that becomes a problem for hypnosis because it can be challenging to displace fears rooted this deeply. That is not saying you shouldn’t try, but find someone who knows what they are doing
      Your sons sensitivities and fears are not coming from just a single source or reason. This makes it more confusing to understand and to pin point what changes can and need to be addressed. It also makes it difficult to make any meaningful suggestions. Your son not only needs changes in what he is thinking, but to change his relationship to his thoughts and emotions.
      That he has suggested ending it all makes the situation even more fragile. That he can’t get out of the house without going into anxiety also makes it difficult. Your son is a very sensitive young man and he feels things with a greater intensity than most of us. That means cognitive approaches to change should be minimized at this time, since his emotions overwhelm him.
      As you know, the answer for most mental health issues these days is to medicate and that is the path most professionals will try to take him down.
      This leaves you with alternative approaches, holistic approaches and not everyone approves of taking this path. So you are going to have to find a balance between what everyone is telling you and the reaction and responses your son gives you, which is what you have been doing.
      I don’t know if this is in anyway helpful, but I hope it gives you something

  8. Susan de Beer

    My husband has OCD tendencies. He counts everything and believes to sit a certain way to make things happen , wear certain kinds of clothes to make him lucky and when watching sport. He gets VERY upset when his team loses and screams and swears while watching TV sport on his own. He has his rituals in the morning getting dresses. He loves gambling, even though he stop gambling after I had to threaten with divorce. He also has restless legs and whenever he need to start speaking on the phone, has to clear his throut first. He has friends but not real friends. We’ve been married 36 years. He is emosionally still in the same place the day I married him. He does not think about things, so he does not develope. He does not think his OCD is a problem and will not seek help. He is a medical doctor himself and very concious of his posision.

    • It is a tough situation to be in when someone will not or cannot see the situation they are in. Since he is not changing, it leaves up to you to make the changes in your life that will support you
      Until you do, nothing will change for you either

  9. Hi my name is Austin I’m currently suffering from OCD systems I seem to have developed or was born with as a kid I have always felt nervous and scard depressed some and it eats away at me it has gotten way worse the past 2 years I have noticed it taking a huge tool and making life a daily struggle! I am trying my best to deal with it I will take all advice I can get glady!

    • Austin
      OCD is a complex challenge. Simple advice on how to deal with it is an inadequate approach. Hopefully you are working with someone who can help you make changes in yourself, address this or in some way deal with how you process your emotions more effectively. I know it is difficult and you want a way out, any way that might relieve some of the discomfort and while that is very possible, you have to put effort into it. Obsessions can lessen, even disappear, but how to go about it is different for every individual

  10. betty wilson

    how do u stop unwanted thoughts that torment u constantly!!

    • Betty, you have provided no data on your situation. That is like asking a mechanic, “How do you stop a noise in a loud motor?” No mechanic can answer that question without asking more questions. Unfortunately, people are a bit more complex that a car engine
      It is common for those suffering with OCD to just want it to stop, they want someone to tell them how to make it go away. It is one of the reasons medication has become the first choice in dealing with OCD, because people want to be cured or fixed. But you are not broken. The relationship you hold with your thoughts and emotions though is not effectively supporting your life.
      Each person is different, each person has their own drivers that keep and trigger the OCD, that keep obsessions from finding resolve. Stress is a factor, but even being stress free is not enough for most people to have thier obsessions stop
      How do you stop unwanted throughts? Find a therapist you are comfortable to work with

  11. do you recommend CBT and ERP?
    the ocd foundation states that hypnosis is utterly ineffective in the case of pure ocd
    so what do you suggest? hypnosis? talk therapy?

    • OCD is not the same for everyone, there is no one size fits all approach that works for everyone. OCD is primarily driven by emotions that cannot or are not being effectively process by the person. Their nervous system is maxed out and this eventually overloads the thought process. What makes OCD challening to work on is the sensitivities (emotional and mental) are layered in many levels and often the person has multiple self defense mechanism built into their thinking process that prevents access to changes that could be helpful or to even addressing certain ideas
      CBT most certainly can be an effective tool for and ERP can also be useful for some cases or certain aspects of the treatment, but they often leave out touching the emotional aspects, the core underlining pains to be processed.
      The process of OCD is very similar to a deep hypnotic trance, one that can be challenging to penatrate. Strait hypnosis usually is not effective on OCD, but understanding the principles of hypnosis comes in very handy in helping people with OCD change. Again OCD must be approached on many levels and emotions must find resolution and be allowed to integrate. So there is no one approach. You find someone who has a broad understanding of multiple approaches and who can use them on the individual based on that individuals unique needs and sensitivities

  12. My son is about to be 15 and has suffered from OCD since age 9. The symptoms came on suddenly when I attempted to take him off of his ADHD medication for the summer which at the time was Focalin. He now takes Adderall, Intuniv, Zoloft and Risperdol. He has been seeing psychologist since age 9, but the OCD has never went away and recently it has got worse. He can’t get the “bad thoughts” to go away. His regular doctor just increased his Risperdol from .5 to 1 mg. We see his psychologist at the end of the week. We live in central Louisiana and finding a good psychologist/psychiatrist in our area has been next to impossible! The psychologist that he sees is 50 miles from us. The only advice I’ve ever really got was increase meds or try a different one. Sometimes I think the meds are actually causing the OCD or at least worsening it, especially the 40 mg of Aderall he takes daily. But I’m not a doctor and am scared of taking him off of any of it especially since the last time I did was when the OCD started. I desperately want to help my son and would love to find a therapist that understands OCD and how to treat it, but I just can’t find one. ADHD and OCD are the only things he’s been diagnosed with. Do you have any advice on finding a therapist or on medications?

    • Every week we are contacted by loved ones wondering what kind of help their children can get for OCD. Unfortunately the first approach in dealing with OCD is medication and on its own it seldom does what is needed to help a person live a better life. Read the warning labels of any of your medication and it will say something to the effect that “OCD is believed to be a chemical imbalance but you should also seek psychological assistance to overcome obsessions”
      There are very few therapists that deal with children and this condition. Most of them heavily rely on medication as part of the treatment.
      Because your son is on so many meds, you do not want to be the person to take him off of these or to lower the dosages. This can be dangerous and should only be done under the guidance of your doctors

  13. My name is mary. I have had ocd most of my life. I think i was about 10 years old is the earliest i can remember. I have long periods of hand washing and long showers and i seem to have trouble when i break my routines even at work. I know that i should want to be better and a part of me does but i can’t imagine not being bothered by touching my husbands stuff or other things that i am uncomfortable with. this has destroyed my marriage i don’t know how to want to change. I don’t understand how exposure therepy will help. If i don’t want to touch something and i do and i can wash my hands later i think i’m too stubborn. Should i try to reduce symtoms and get under control the maybe handle exposure. i just don’t know. When i feel dirty i don’t think something bad is going to happen i just know i am bothered by it and thats it. I don’t know what to do i even have trouble with making phone calls to get appointments for the doctor and i stress out about how appointments take time out of other things i have to do. I am just affraid i will never be comfortable with being normal. Also I had a head injury as a kid. could this effect me getting better. Many people think it caused my ocd.

    • Mary, while your injury could have something to do with your obsessions, unless you have had tests that conclusively prove this, I would not fall back on this as the main reason for OCD. Most people suffering from OCD do not have injuries, even when it starts at early ages.
      What treatment approach to start with will vary from person to person. The dynamics of OCD are such that there are numerous things that need to be worked on if you want to overcome them. You are under the impression you have things you have to do, obligations in life that you have to fulfill, which are not subjected to change. That already has you stuck. You know your fears or obsessions are not real, right, but they feel real when they come up, which means some part of your neurology is making them up also.
      You may want to start with phone therapy and progress from their. Whatever you do don’t keep making excuses as to why you can’t start therapy, because nothing will change if you don’t initiate the change process

  14. I have a 48 yr. old daughter who returned to my home because she was unable to cope on her own. She has been living with me now for more than 2 years. She has contamination issues and spends more than half of her waking hours washing her hands. Her showers (once a week) take anywhere from 4 to 5 hours. She has other rituals as well. She has been seeing a therapist occasionally, but progress is slow. My question is, do personality traits make the ocd worse? She is a very angry person, and verbally lashes out at me whenever I lose my patience with her demands. Lately she has begun to talk to herself loud enough for me to hear and I find this very bizarre behavior. She refuses to take any medication other than herbal ones. Should I worry about this talking to herself?

    • OCD is a complex challenge and many things can contribute to holding it in place and making it difficult to work through. Unresolved emotional issues, such as anger most certainly have be part of the glue holding the obsessions together. Unresolved emotions do not want to stay bottled up inside, especially if they cannot find resolution. Talking to oneself is one way people release some of their energy, to get it outside themselves.
      Additional or different therapy may be needed, but she has to be the one to initiate it

      • So does her Mother live like this because the Daughter will not get. Maybe she can get a consult and help.

        Or a intervention can be done for the daughter.

        But people ask for help and I can’t get these vague or Simple Simon answers to very complicated situations.

        Because of the there illness, they will not initiate help themselves, so the cycle continues with no help.

        There others that really want help but it’s too expensive on their own. They just keep getting a runaround. If they get help through their insurance company it goes back to their HR department which tells their manger and coworkers.

        The very thing that you’re afraid of happens, judgment.

  15. Thank you for your information this is helping me to deal with my mental health conditions which I have I have ADHD,PTST,Panic disorder chronic pain disorder query psychotic disorder Query schizoodles personality disorder ununited fracture right tibia problems in primary support group
    GAF 65 The seems are my symptoms looking for some advice thank you God bless. Rob

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