After you are diagnosed with
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), your doctor will
likely prescribe antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (for example, Prozac). Antidepressants
are thought to help balance
neurotransmitters (such as serotonin) in your
In some cases it takes time to adjust the dosage or find
the right medicine that will work for you. You may start to feel better within
1 to 3 weeks after you start taking an SSRI. 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 doctor may
increase the dosage of your medicine, change to another SSRI, or use another
medicine known as clomipramine if the medicine first prescribed doesn't help.
Clomipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant, has been used for years to treat OCD,
but it may have more side effects than SSRIs.
Kris Oser, 37, of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., is an email fiend. A single
mother and director of communications for a market research company, she has to
be immediately accessible to executives and the news media.
That means Oser is often on the phone and messaging several people at the
same time -- and that can lead to trouble. In one recent gaffe, she mistakenly
emailed a reporter at The Wall Street Journal instead of her best
friend, asking her to pick up Oser’s daughter from school.
Antidepressants are used to relieve the obsessive thoughts and subsequent
compulsive behaviors in those who have OCD. By increasing the level of
serotonin in the brain, antidepressants help to regulate the communication
between different parts of the brain.
A person with OCD may also have
other anxiety disorders that complicate treatment and require using other
For children and adolescents with OCD, treatment
cognitive-behavioral therapy with antidepressants
(SSRIs), such as sertraline, works better than only taking medicine.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy alone also works well, but it works better if it
is combined with medicine.