Other Treatments for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Behavior therapy can help you modify and gain control over your behavior. A technique called exposure and response prevention (ERP) is especially helpful in treating symptoms of OCD. With this approach, you are deliberately and voluntarily exposed to feared objects or ideas, either directly or by imagination. Then, with your permission, you are discouraged or prevented from carrying out your typical compulsive behavior.
For example, if you are a compulsive hand washer, you may be asked to touch an object that you believe to be contaminated and then denied the ability to wash for several hours. If the treatment works, you will gradually experience less
Behavior therapy has been found to have lasting benefits. The best results occur if the following conditions are met:
- The therapist is well trained in the particular behavior therapy that is used.
- You are highly motivated.
- Your family (if involved) is cooperative.
- You attend sessions regularly.
- You finish homework assignments and complete the course of treatment.
Most psychiatrists and behavior therapists believe that a combination of behavior therapy (consisting of ERP) and medication is the most effective approach to treating OCD. For example, in a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers found that people who took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and participated in ERP had a greater reduction in symptoms, compared to those who took SSRIs and participated in stress management training.
Cognitive therapy helps you change patterns of thinking that are unproductive and harmful. This kind of therapy helps you examine your feelings and separate realistic from unrealistic thoughts or helpful from unhelpful thoughts. Like behavior therapy, cognitive therapy helps you gain a better sense of control over your life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
About OCD. Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation website. Available at: http://www.ocfoundation.org/what-is-ocd.html . Accessed September 8, 2008.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Anxiety Disorders Association of America website. Available at: http://www.adaa.org/ . Accessed September 8, 2008.
*¹4/16/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Simpson HB, Foa EB, Liebowitz MR, et al. A randomized, controlled trial of cognitive-behavioral therapy for augmenting pharmacotherapy in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2008;165:621-630. Epub 2008 Mar 3.
Last reviewed August 2008 by
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