OCD Treatments, Signs, Symptoms & Therapies

What is OCD? OCD meaning, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. There are two main types of OCD Treatments according to the National Health Service of UK: [1] […]

What is OCD?

OCD meaning, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. There are two main types of OCD Treatments according to the National Health Service of UK: [1]

  • Psychological therapy: usually a type of therapy that helps you face your fears and obsessive thoughts without “putting them right” with compulsions.
  • Medicine: Usually a type of antidepressant medicine that can help by altering the balance of chemicals in your brain.

A short course of therapy is usually recommended for relatively mild OCD. If you have more severe OCD, you may need a longer course of therapy and/or medicine. These treatments can be very effective, but it’s important to be aware that it can take several months before you notice the benefit.

What Causes OCD?

We know OCD is a scary and debilitating disorder, but what causes OCD? OCD sufferers have been searching for a definitive cause, but so far there has not been a conclusive answer so far. While scientists have not discovered the exact cause of OCD, they think it could be a combination of neurobiological, genetic, learned behaviors, environmental factors or specific events that lead to OCD.

OCD Treatments
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder. OCD Treatments

Scientists can’t quite pinpoint what might trigger OCD in those predisposed to develop the disorder. However, researchers believe OCD develops differently depending on whether it runs in families or is sparked through life experiences. The risk of developing OCD appears to be heritable – meaning having OCD in your family increases the chance that OCD runs in your family, OCD treatment would help to control the symptoms, and to study the cause that developed the OCD.

Signs and Symptoms of OCD

According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, People with OCD may have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions, or both. These symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships. Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety. Common symptoms include: [2]

  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, or harm
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
  • Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought. Common compulsions include:

  • Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
  • Compulsive counting
  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way

Not all rituals or habits are compulsions. Everyone double checks things sometimes. But a person with OCD generally:

  • Doesn’t get pleasure when performing the behaviors or rituals, but may feel brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause
  • Experiences significant problems in their daily life due to these thoughts or behaviors
  • Can’t control their thoughts or behaviors, even when those thoughts or behaviors are recognized as excessive
  • Spends at least 1 hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors

Some individuals with OCD also have a tic disorder. Motor tics are sudden, brief, repetitive movements, such as eye blinking and other eye movements, facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging, and head or shoulder jerking. Common vocal tics include repetitive throat-clearing, sniffing, or grunting sounds.

Symptoms may come and go, ease over time, or worsen. People with OCD may try to help themselves by avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions, OCD and alcohol are a very common mix or they may use drugs to calm themselves. Although most adults with OCD recognize that what they are doing doesn’t make sense, some adults and most children may not realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary. Parents or teachers typically recognize OCD symptoms in children. If you think you have OCD, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. If left untreated, OCD can interfere in all aspects of life.

Types of OCD

OCD treatment may be able to treat some different types of OCD. These are the types of OCD and may include: [3] 

  • Contamination: fears of illness, germs, and dirt
  • Ruminations: contamination or mental checking
  • Checking: Repeatedly checking or counting
  • Hoarding: Saving and collecting things even when they have no space or purpose
  • Intrusive Thoughts: Uncontrollable thoughts that can be violent or disturbing in nature

Categories of Intrusive Thoughts:

  • Relationships
  • Sexual Thoughts
  • Magical Thinking
  • Religious Thinking
  • Violent Thoughts 

Categories of Hoarding

  • Preventing harm hoarding
  • Deprivation Hoarding
  • Emotional Hoarding

Complications from OCD

Complications may arise if you are struggling with OCD, but an effective OCD treatment would help you to treat all these symptoms and complications due to OCD correctly. Problems resulting from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder may include: [3]

  • Difficulty attending work, school, or social activities
  • Troubled relationships
  • Overall poor quality of life
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior
  • Excessive time spent engaging in ritualistic behaviors
  • Health issues, such as contact dermatitis from frequent handwashing

OCD Treatments: Risk Factors of OCD

OCD is a common disorder that affects adults, adolescents, and children all over the world. Most people are diagnosed by about the age of 19, typically with an earlier age of onset in boys than in girls, but onset after age 35 does happen. [2]

The causes of OCD are unknown, but risk factors include:


Twin and family studies have shown that people with first-degree relatives (such as a parent, sibling, or child) who have OCD are at a higher risk for developing OCD themselves. The risk is higher if the first-degree relative developed OCD as a child or teen. Ongoing research continues to explore the connection between genetics and OCD and may help improve OCD treatments and diagnosis. [2]

Brain Structure and Functioning

Imaging studies have shown differences in the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain in patients with OCD. There appears to be a connection between the OCD symptoms and abnormalities in certain areas of the brain, but that connection is not clear. Research is still underway. Understanding the causes will help determine specific, personalized treatments to treat OCD. [2]


An association between childhood trauma and obsessive-compulsive symptoms has been reported in some studies. More research is needed to understand this relationship better. In some cases, children may develop OCD or OCD symptoms following a streptococcal infection—this is called Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS). [2]

OCD Treatments and Therapies

OCD is typically treated with psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of the two. Although most patients with OCD respond to treatment, some patients continue to experience symptoms. Sometimes people with OCD also have other mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphic disorder, a disorder in which someone mistakenly believes that a part of their body is abnormal. It is important to consider these other disorders when making treatment decisions.


Medication depends on the different OCD Treatments. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), which include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to help reduce OCD symptoms. SRIs often require higher daily doses in the treatment of OCD than depression and may take 8 to 12 weeks to start working, but some patients experience more rapid improvement.

If symptoms do not improve with these types of medications, research shows that some patients may respond well to antipsychotic medication. Although research shows that an antipsychotic medication may help manage symptoms for people who have both OCD and a tic disorder, research on the effectiveness of antipsychotics to treat OCD is mixed. [2]

OCD Treatments
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), which include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to help reduce OCD symptoms.

If you are prescribed a medication, be sure you:

  • Talk with your doctor or a pharmacist to make sure you understand the risks and benefits of the medications you’re taking.
  • Do not stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor first. Suddenly stopping a medication may lead to “rebound” or worsening of OCD symptoms. Other uncomfortable or potentially dangerous withdrawal effects are also possible.
  • Report any concerns about side effects to your doctor right away. You may need a change in the dose or a different medication.


Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for adults and children with OCD. Research shows that certain types of psychotherapy, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and other related therapies (e.g., habit reversal training) can be as effective as medication for many individuals.

Research also shows that a type of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention (EX/RP) – spending time in the very situation that triggers compulsions (e.g. touching dirty objects) but then being prevented from undertaking the usual resulting compulsion (e.g. handwashing) – is effective in reducing compulsive behaviors in OCD, even in people who did not respond well to SRI medication. [2]

OCD Treatments
Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for adults and children with OCD.

As with most mental disorders, treatment is usually personalized and might begin with either medication or psychotherapy, or with a combination of both. For many patients, EX/RP is the add-on treatment of choice when SRIs or SSRIs medication does not effectively treat OCD symptoms or vice versa for individuals who begin treatment with psychotherapy. [2]


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic disorder that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up CA Treatment Center can provide you, or someone you love, OCD Treatments with professional and safe care. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.


[1] National Health Service of UK – ‘Treatment – Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)’ (www.nhs.uk)

[2] U.S. National Institute of Mental Health – ‘Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder’ (www.nimh.nih.gov)

[3] We Level Up Treatment Center – ‘OCD Treatment’

[4] welevelupfl.com – ‘OCD Treatment’

[5] welevelupnj.com – ‘OCD Treatment’