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  • Using SSRIs To Treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

    Published on October 19, 2021
    Using SSRIs To Treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

    Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are generally considered the recommended treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). They balance the chemical signals in the brain to reduce OCD symptoms.

    Unfortunately, not all SSRIs work for everyone with OCD. Some trial and error may be necessary to find the right medication for you.

    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

    Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that involves recurrent thoughts and behaviors that an individual finds difficult to stop. These thoughts and behaviors negatively affect the person’s life.

    Some common OCD symptoms may include:

    • repeatedly checking things are done 
    • keeping items in a specific order
    • being overly cautious about cleanliness
    • having persistent thoughts that are disturbing or violent
    • having anxiety if the routine is broken

    How SSRIs Help Treat OCD

    SSRIs are considered one of the most effective medications in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder by mental health clinicians and the FDA. While SSRIs are normally used as antidepressant medications, they also work on those with OCD.

    SSRIs work by affecting the chemical serotonin in the brain. If the brain doesn’t have enough, the nerves may not communicate effectively. 

    SSRIs block the transporters that lower the serotonin levels in the brain and improve communication between neurons so that more serotonin can be made.

    But SSRIs don’t work instantaneously. The drug can take anywhere from 8-12 weeks before the benefits are noticed. Sometimes high doses are needed before the effects begin to show up.

    Additionally, not all antidepressants work on OCD. Some medications are more effective than others. Some adverse effe

    Which SSRIS Treat OCD?

    The SSRIs that may be recommended and have seen the best results when treating OCD include:

    SSRIs come with a variety of side effects that may include drowsiness, headaches, insomnia, and nervousness. 

    Other Medications

    Other medications that have shown to be effective on OCD, but aren’t SSRIs, include:

    • venlafaxine/Effexor (SNRI)
    • duloxetine/Cymbalta (SNRI)
    • mirtazapine/Remeron (tetracyclic antidepressant)
    • risperidone/Risperdal (atypical antipsychotic)
    • olanzapine/Zyprexa (atypical antipsychotic)
    • quetiapine/Seroquel (atypical antipsychotic)
    • clomipramine/Anafranil (tricyclic antidepressant)

    Other Forms Of Treatment For OCD

    There are other ways to treat OCD that don’t involve medications. These types of treatments can include:

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

    Healthcare providers are likely to recommend a combination of OCD medication with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

    CBT is a form of talk therapy that can help people change their mindsets and avoid intrusive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. 

    A form of CBT that is likely used in the treatment of OCD is exposure and response prevention (ERP). It works by exposing people to their OCD triggers and then helping them find healthy ways to deal with them.

    Good Nutrition

    Eating a healthy diet can also play a big role in managing OCD. The chemicals in the brain rely on vitamins and nutrients to work effectively. 

    If you’re struggling with OCD and addiction, please call our helpline today to discover the right treatment program for your needs.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience - Drug treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder
    International OCD Foundation - Medications for OCD
    Matrix Medical Communications: Psychiatry - Clinical Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
    National Library of Medicine: PubMed Central - Pharmacological treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder

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