Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder - Assessment and Treatment
There is help for people with OCD.
The first step is to go to a Family Physician to talk about your symptoms. The practitioner will likely ask you to do a behavioral health assessment and possibly some physical tests to make sure that another physical problem isn't causing the symptoms.
Make sure your practitioner uses a multi-disorder behavioral health assessment tool and not a single disorder tool. It is important your practitioner gets a global multi disorder overview of your behavioral health and does NOT limit their assessment to a narrow set of questions as is often found in a basic psychological stress scale.
Once you have completed your assessment, your practitioner should ask you more detailed questions based on the results, arrive at a diagnosis and diskuss with you next steps which may involved psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both.
There are different kinds of treatment for OCD. Practitioners may ask people with OCD to undertake psychotherapy with a licensed social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist. A type of therapy called behavior therapy is especially useful for treating OCD.
It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving and reacting to situations that help them feel less anxious and fearful without having obsessive thoughts or acting compulsively.
Practitioners may prescribe medication to help relieve symptoms of OCD. When chemicals in the brain are not at a certain level it may result in OCD and medications can often help the brain chemicals stay at the correct levels. It's important to know that some of these medicines may take a few weeks to start working.
Only a medical practitioner (a Family Physician or psychiatrist) can prescribe medications.
OCD usually responds well to treatment with certain medications and/or exposure-based psychotherapy, in which people face situations that cause fear or anxiety and become less sensitive (desensitized) to them. Other research into new treatment approaches for people whose OCD does not respond well to the usual therapies is being undertaken.
These approaches include combination and augmentation (add-on) treatments, as well as modern techniques such as deep brain stimulation.
Practitioners also may prescribe medication to help treat OCD. It's important to know that some of these medicines may take several weeks to start working. T
he kinds of medicines used to treat OCD are antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines. Some of these medicines are used to treat other problems, such as depression, but also are helpful for OCD. Although these medicines often have mild side effects, they are usually not a problem for most people, especially if the dose starts off low and is increased slowly over time.
Some people do better with therapy, while others do better with medicine. Still others do best with a combination of the two. Talk with your practitioner about the best treatment for you.
There is no cure for OCD yet, but treatments can give relief to people who have it and help them live a more normal life. To improve treatment, scientists are studying how well different medicines and therapies work. Click here for more on Anxiety Disorder Research.
Who pays for treatment? In Australia you can receive up to 12 free psychologist sessions per year if you are referred by your Family Physician with a Family Physician Mental Health Treatment Plan.
Some insurance plans in Australia cover treatment for anxiety disorders so you should check with your own insurance company to find out about coverage details. For people who don't have insurance, state governments may offer treatment at a clinic or health center.