What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a potentially disabling
anxiety disorder. A person who has
OCD has intrusive and unwanted thoughts and repeatedly
performs tasks to get rid of the thoughts. For example, if you have OCD, you
may fear that everything you touch is contaminated with germs, and in order to
ease that fear, you repeatedly wash your hands.
The effects of
OCD range from mild to severe. OCD can disrupt your social life and
relationships as well as your ability to work or go to school.
What can I expect if I take medicines?
can help balance the chemicals in your brain (neurotransmitters) and reduce the intensity of your
symptoms. Antidepressant medicines called selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (for example, Prozac), are most commonly
used. Your doctor may increase the dosage of your medicine or change to another
SSRI if the first medicine prescribed doesn't help. You may start to feel
better within 1 to 3 weeks of taking antidepressant medicine. But it can take
as many as 12 weeks to see more improvement. If you have questions or concerns
about your medicines, or if you do not notice any improvement by 3 weeks, talk
to your doctor.
Your medicine may cause side effects, but they
typically go away after your body adjusts to the drug. If not, a different
medicine or dosage may work better. Common side effects include:
- Appetite changes or
- Trouble sleeping and
- Loss of sexual desire or
ability and delayed orgasm.
- Dizziness or shakiness
What can I expect if I do not take medicines?
you have mild symptoms, you may be able to control OCD with a type of
exposure and response prevention, a form of
- Exposure and response prevention provides
gradually increasing contact with the feared obsession so that anxiety is
reduced. For example, if you were obsessed about germ contamination, you would
repeatedly touch an object you believe is contaminated and not wash your hands
afterward. You would repeat that behavior until your anxiety was
- Cognitive therapy may also be used to help overcome the
faulty beliefs (such as fear of contamination) that lead to OCD