For those struggling with OCD, the disorder can completely upend one’s daily life and cause incredible stress. So, it’s only understandable that those suffering would wonder, “is there a cure for OCD?”
Throughout this article, we’re going to explore that concept and understand what OCD is, how it manifests, and what possible treatment options exist to try and manage this mental health condition.
What is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a cyclic mental health condition that affects the thoughts and behaviors of the sufferer. OCD starts as unwanted and repetitive thoughts called obsessions that can manifest physically through compulsive actions, practices, or behaviors. ¹
There are two components to OCD symptoms: the obsessions that occur through intrusive thoughts and emotions and the compulsive actions that sprout from these obsessions. In order to properly explain OCD symptoms, it’s recommended to organize them into their respective categories: obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessive Symptoms ²
- Fear of being contaminated
- Anxieties about one’s own safety
- Unwanted violent or sexual thoughts, ideas, or imagery
- Concerns about making mistakes either personally or professionally
- A need for perfectionism
- An overabundant concern over sexuality, social status, or perceived relationship complications
- Worries about harming themselves or others
- Suicidal thoughts and tendencies need to be taken incredibly seriously and one should reach out immediately for help. Such resources can include calling or texting the crisis line at 988 or in an event of a serious emergency dialing 911.
Compulsive Symptoms ³
- Constant cleaning of personal items, spaces, or body parts (i.e. hands, hair, fingernails)
- Locking and relocking or resecuring doors, windows, or entryways out of fear of being broken into.
- Ritualistic practices or having to go through actions a specific number of times in order to feel at ease.
- A new or continued practice of collecting items that have no inherent value. Such behaviors can contribute to a practice called hoarding which is having so many items that it restricts the ability to have a clean, organized space and can further deteriorate the mental health of the hoarder.
What Causes OCD to Get Worse?
The most common causes of OCD deterioration occur from not taking medication on time, not adhering to treatment, or not communicating with the support network about worsening symptoms. Added stress, trauma or ignoring needs can also contribute to OCD worsening.
While all the above situations can contribute to an OCD diagnosis worsening, those that are experiencing activated triggers can send a stable OCD patient into a downward spiral.
OCD triggers are situations and psychological stimuli that recall a previous traumatic experience. There are several key triggers that can cause OCD symptoms to get worse, here are just a few common ones: ⁴
- Undue Stress or Trauma
- Losing Control over Oneself or a Situation
Is There a Cure for OCD?
Unfortunately, there is no complete cure for OCD. Treatment options can help and ease symptom severity and implementing certain habits and coping mechanisms can aid in daily functioning. However, there aren’t any cures for OCD.
That being said we’ll take a look at how to adequately address OCD symptoms and find the best treatment path.
Current OCD Treatment Methods
As for treating OCD, there are two main approaches: one through medication and the other with therapy options.
Individually each of them has its benefits to help ease symptoms. However, both done in conjunction offer the best overall chances of improvement.
We’ll explore both of these strategies to try and calm OCD obsessions and compulsions.
It’s a common course of treatment to utilize medication to try and reduce symptom severity in OCD patients. The most common medicine that is recommended for those with OCD is antidepressants.
Antidepressants help with obsessions and compulsions as well as underlying depression-related symptoms that occur in OCD patients. ⁵ The most common antidepressant type that is given to OCD patients is SSRIs.
The reason why antidepressants have more of an impact on OCD patients than other phyciatric medications is still unclear. There are theories regarding how SSRIs have more of an impact than different kinds of antidepressants as well as other mental health meds, with many believing that having a serotonin inhibitor can help calm the mind from obsessive-related symptoms. ⁶
When one thinks of therapy the traditional presentation of talk therapy, with a patient on a couch and the mental health professional sitting back and asking questions may come to mind. However, there have been advancements to talk therapy options.
While traditional talk therapy can help with diagnosing OCD initially, other methods that are more direct in targeting triggers and symptoms are recommended.
One such targeted option of therapy for OCD patients is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This common form of therapy has shown great promise for those suffering from OCD symptoms. CBT creates new therapeutic responses to triggers. So, those suffering from OCD can find new and more comprehensive ways to cope. ⁷
One form of CBT therapy is exposure therapy which actively exposes the OCD patient to triggers that will cause obsessions or compulsions. This can be an uncomfortable process at first. However, it has shown great promise and long-lasting results as the patient become gradually more and more comfortable with a vast array of triggers. ⁸
Best Ways to Overcome OCD
While there may not be a cure for OCD, there are ways to confront and overcome symptoms to lessen their severity. There are many different options from implementing new behaviors and daily habits, to utilizing natural supplements and coping techniques.
We’re going to discuss just a few of these options but we invite you to explore others that may help you or a loved one in the future. ⁹
- Come to terms with diagnosis
- Learn to aknowledge emotions, compulsions and obsessions
- Manage stress in a healthy way
- Creating a strong support network that you can trust
- Stick to a routine that can be easy and fulfilling to follow
- Sticking to a medication and therapy schedule
- Look after physical health, including:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Create and practice relaxation techniques
OCD can be a complicated and conflicting mental health disorder. It can constrict one’s ability to lead a daily life and impact social relationships as well as professional abilities. When the symptoms become too complicated and the world feels stifling it is best to reach out for help.
Understanding that there is no comprehensive cure for OCD results in the patient having to come to terms with dealing with this disorder themselves. However, it doesn’t have to be a solo journey, with the right medication, therapy options, and support at work, any patient can find success and peace. While there may not be a cure, there can be help…
Do you still have questions about if OCD is curable?
We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have any further knowledge to share – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.
¹ International OCD Foundation: What is OCD?
² National Institute of Mental Health: Common OCD Symptoms
³ National Health Services UK: OCD Symptoms
⁴ OCD UK Foundation: OCD Triggers
⁵ International OCD Foundation: Common OCD Medications
⁶ University of Florida School of Psychiatric Medicine: OCD & Antidepressants
⁷ International OCD Foundation: OCD Treatment Options
⁸ International OCD Foundation: Expsoure Therapy for OCD
⁹ MindUK: Self Care for OCD Patients