Understanding and Treating OCD

Understanding and Treating OCD

Many people joke about being a “little OCD,” but obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) isn’t a quirky character trait. 

OCD is a mental health condition that causes a cycle of unwanted thoughts and anxiety (obsessive) that triggers an intense urge to engage in repetitive behaviors (compulsions) to appease the thought and ease the anxiety. OCD is all-consuming and can take over someone’s life.

At Revîv Functional Psychiatry & TMS Wellness Center in Fullerton, California, our expert psychiatrist Dr. Hina Sidhu specializes in diagnosing and treating OCD. 

Here, we want to help you understand OCD and your treatment options.

Understanding OCD

People with OCD may know that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational, but they can’t control their thoughts or urges. To someone with OCD, whatever intrusive thought they have seems very likely to happen, and they must act to prevent the consequences. 

For example, someone with OCD may think they did something wrong and need to repeatedly check to make sure they did it right. Many people go back and double-check to make sure you locked the door, but someone with OCD may need to check the door several times before moving on.

Though researchers are still investigating what causes OCD, imaging studies show that people with OCD have different brain structures. These structural changes seem to interfere with how the brain responds to serotonin, a brain chemical that carries messages between nerve cells and influences mood. 

Treating OCD

OCD is a complex mental health condition and needs individualized care based on the severity of symptoms. For our patients with OCD, we recommend:

Medication

Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRI), which include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can help reduce OCD symptoms. SRIs are a type of antidepressant. 

For OCD, we prescribe the SRI at a higher dose than we do for depression. Though some people notice improvements in their symptoms immediately, it can take up to 12 weeks for the medication to start working.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy also benefits people with OCD. Research indicates certain types of therapy work better than others, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), habit reversal training, and Exposure and Response Prevention (EX/RP). 

Your therapist customizes your psychotherapy plan to best fit your needs. 

Lifestyle

We also encourage our patients to develop their own coping strategies to manage their symptoms, such as engaging in relaxation exercises to reduce anxiety, like meditation or yoga. Dr. Sidhu also recommends eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise to boost mental well-being. 

Transcranial magnetic stimulation for OCD

In 2018, the FDA approved the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for OCD. TMS is a noninvasive treatment that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate brain activity. For OCD, we direct the magnetic pulses at the areas of the brain where serotonin activity is low. 

We only use TMS for OCD when traditional treatments fail to relieve symptoms. TMS works best when combined with psychotherapy and psychiatric medication. 

OCD is more than just a fear of germs or regular handwashing. It’s a significant and chronic mental health condition that interferes with daily life. But you can get better with the right treatment. Let us help you gain control over your OCD. Call our office or book an appointment online today.

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