Medications to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental illness associated with the recurrence of disturbing images or thoughts and the fear of something. The occurrence of these unwanted and distressing thoughts causes a person to engage in certain behaviors or ritual actions to get rid of the intrusive thoughts or to prevent them from entering the body. Gradually, excessive compulsive habits become destructive. Constant anxiety due to obsessive compulsions and ritualistic or compulsive behaviors result in hours spent in a situation where daily activities are lost. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can also bring problems with adjustment and relationships, and the person is mostly isolated. To resolve the situation and reduce distress, you should seek medical help. Because of the severity of obsessive-compulsive disorder, the treatment process is mostly a combination of.

Medications to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder

Because of the severity of OCD, medication is often needed to reduce distress from intrusive thoughts and images and to reduce anxiety. The most common form of medication prescribed to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are commonly used as antidepressants; however, they are also very effective medications in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. Listed below are the types of antidepressants and their dosages that are helpful in treating OCD:

  • Sertraline (Zoloft) – up to 200 mg/day
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox) – up to 300 mg/day
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil) – up to 25 mg/day
  • Paroxetine (Paxil) – 40-60 mg/day
  • Citalopram (Celexa) – up to 40 mg/day
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro) – up to 40 mg/day
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor) – up to 375 mg/day
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac) 40-80 mg/day

Clomipramine is the oldest and most widely used medication and has been widely studied for use in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It has always shown positive results. While fluoxetine and paroxetine have only been effective in controlled trials, other drugs have shown the same effectiveness in open trials.

For children, only some of these drugs are approved by the FDA. This is sertraline for children 6 years and older, fluoxetine and fluvoxamine for children 8 years and older. Clomipramine has also been shown to be effective in treating OCD in children; however, it is only approved for use in children 10 years of age and older. However, it should be noted that the likelihood and severity of side effects are higher when clomipramine is used in children.

The psychiatrist may also prescribe some atypical antipsychotics that are good for reducing the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. These include:

  • Risperidone
  • Olanzapine
  • Quetiapine
  • Ziprasidone

Even some benzodiazepines help relieve symptoms of anxiety in patients with OCD. However, in most cases, benzodiazepines are used in conjunction with other medications and reliable treatments. The most preferred way to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder is to combine cognitive behavioral therapy with appropriate medications.

Do all antidepressants work well for obsessive-compulsive disorder?

No, not all antidepressants help relieve the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The most popular and commonly used medications, amitriptyline (Elavil) and imipramine (Tofranil), which are good antidepressants, rarely help relieve OCD symptoms.

Common side effects of medications used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder

The most common side effects of medications used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Drop in blood pressure when rising from a sitting position
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Stomach upset
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Low libido
  • Increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions. You should tell your doctor immediately if you are having suicidal thoughts or making a plan. Even if family members notice this symptom, it should be reported immediately.

SSRIs also have a small risk of triggering heart problems. Therefore, your doctor may ask you to have an electrocardiogram (ECG) before you start taking the medicine and several weeks after you start.

Some medications for obsessive-compulsive disorder can interact dangerously with food, medications, alcohol, or other substances you use. Talk to your doctor about all the medicines you take, including all vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements, as well as any over-the-counter medications.

What if you have serious side effects even after taking the smallest dose of medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder?

If you develop side effects from taking the medicine, consult your doctor to replace the medicine. Your doctor may start with doses of 1-2 mg per day and then slowly increase the dose to reduce side effects. If necessary, you may also be asked to take a liquid form of the medicine to dilute the dose. In many cases, it helps to reduce side effects and then slowly increase the dose to what you need. Do not change the dose or the way you take your medicine without consulting your doctor.

Do I only take medicine when I feel anxious?

No. These medications must be taken every day, unlike any anti-anxiety medication, to keep blood serotonin levels under control. It is best not to skip any medication until your doctor gives you permission to do so. Sometimes your doctor may prescribe skipping a certain number of doses to help manage side effects, such as sexual problems or low libido.

How long should I take medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder?

It usually takes a few weeks to 3 months before you see a noticeable change in your symptoms. It is very important that the person continues to take the medication until it runs out. The important thing about treating OCD is that there is no specific medication to treat it. Your doctor will choose the most appropriate medication depending on the condition. However, after using the medication for the first 3 months, you may even need to change the medication because of excessive side effects or insufficient symptom reduction. When treating OCD, it is not uncommon for a doctor to change the medication 2-3 times before finding the best medication that provides the most benefit and the fewest side effects.

The duration of medication use usually varies. Ideally, once the most appropriate medication with the fewest side effects and greatest benefits has been found, it should be continued for the next 6 months to a year. However, this duration may vary depending on the severity of the illness and recovery from it. In some cases, it continues for years even after symptoms improve.

The duration of medication for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder also depends on the likelihood of a relapse of symptoms after stopping the medication. A relapse may occur days, weeks, or months after stopping the medicine. The best part, however, is that there is a quick recovery when the medication is resumed. The likelihood of an OCD relapse is reduced when cognitive behavioral therapy and medication are combined, and when the dose is slowly reduced over an extended period of time and then discontinued.

Alternative treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder

In addition to intensive and severe treatments, patients can choose lighter treatments along with medication and psychotherapy to make sure they improve. These include:

  • Treating OCD with inositol: As an effective form of vitamin B, it is important in treating OCD. As part of a biochemical process that affects serotonin receptors, inositol is ideal for controlling exacerbated obsessive-compulsive disorder. This treatment should be done under the supervision of a qualified physician for about 6 weeks or less, depending on the patient's condition.
  • Relaxation techniques for OCD: Patients can also practice relaxation techniques through yoga, meditation, deep breathing and other stress relief techniques. These techniques must be practiced for at least 30 minutes every day. As the mind gets used to relaxation, anxiety symptoms will decrease. There is also an increased need for enough deep sleep, which can provide better control of the mind.

OCD is not a very serious problem if it is detected at an early stage. However, if not treated promptly, it can be fatal. It is important to follow your doctor's orders and not experiment with the medication, such as increasing or decreasing the dose yourself. Trust your doctor, have a positive attitude toward recovery, and help him or her get out of this situation sooner.