Skip to content

Mental Health Center

Font Size

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Medications

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 brain.

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.

Recommended Related to Mental Health

Why Cell Phones and Driving Don't Mix

In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics, including questions about what's true and not true in the field of medicine. For our July/August 2012 issue, we interviewed a University of Utah researcher about the danger of using a phone behind the wheel. Q: I've read that driving while talking on a cell phone is as bad as driving drunk. Is that true? A: Many people can't imagine not chatting on the phone while driving. But...

Read the Why Cell Phones and Driving Don't Mix article > >

Your doctor may prescribe other medicines if you have other conditions along with OCD.

Medication choices

Antidepressants (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (for example, Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), and sertraline (Zoloft) are commonly prescribed to treat OCD. These medicines are taken as tablets or capsules. The medicine venlafaxine can also help symptoms of OCD. The tricyclic antidepressant clomipramine (Anafranil) is sometimes used as well.

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.

Other medicines (such as antipsychotics) are sometimes used to treat OCD.

What to think about

A person with OCD may also have other anxiety disorders that complicate treatment and require using other medicines.

For children and adolescents with OCD, treatment combining 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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 05, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    contemplation
    Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
    lunar eclipse
    Signs of mania and depression.
     
    man screaming
    Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
    woman looking into fridge
    When food controls you.
     
    Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
    Article
    senior man eating a cake
    Article
     
    Phobias
    Slideshow
    woman reading medicine warnings
    Article
     
    depressed young woman
    Article
    thumbnail_tired_woman_yawning
    Article
     
    veteran
    Article
    overturned shot glass
    Article
     

    WebMD Special Sections