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How is OCD Treated?: OCD Treatment & Therapy Options

How is OCD Treated?: OCD Treatment & Therapy Options

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What is OCD?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that affects people of all ages and from all walks of life. It happens when a person becomes caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions.

Most of us have obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors at some point in our lives, but this does not imply that everyone has “some OCD.” The cycle of obsessions and compulsions must be so extreme that it consumes more than an hour per day of your time, causes severe distress, or interferes with significant activities you value.1

Symptoms of OCD

Some symptoms of OCD include, but are not limited to:

  • Obsessions Symptoms2
    • Fear of getting sick after handling stuff that other people have touched
    • Questions about whether you properly locked the door or turned off the stove
    • When things aren’t in order or facing the right way, it causes much stress
    • Thoughts of ramming your automobile into a crowd
    • Unpleasant sexual imagery or ideas about misbehaving in public or shouting obscenities
    • Avoiding circumstances that can set off obsessions, like shaking hands
  • Compulsion Symptoms
    • Scrubbing your hands until they are raw
    • Repeatedly ensuring that the doors are locked
    • Repeatedly ensuring that the stove is off
    • Using specific patterns to count
    • Repeating a word, phrase, or prayer out loud
    • Putting all of your canned items in the same direction

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have stressful and recurrent thoughts (obsessions), which frequently prompt them to take an action they feel compelled to do (compulsions). They might need to do these compulsions once or more to feel more at ease.3

Although compulsions and obsessions might differ from person to person, clinicians typically classify them into distinct types. In addition, people frequently experience many distinct categories of symptoms, which might change over time.

Types of OCD

These are a few of the most typical types of OCD:

  • Organization: This type of OCD, arguably the most well-known, involves obsessions with things being exactly where they should be or symmetrical.
  • Contamination: Two main concepts serve as the foundation for contamination OCD. The first is the idea that non-viral illnesses can be passed between people through contact or proximity. The second is that commonplace events, ideas, and phrases can “contaminate” someone and make them feel dirty.
  • Intrusive Thoughts: People with intrusive thoughts endure painful and repulsive concepts that appear out of nowhere. These obsessions can involve hurting a close relative or stranger or even the notion that merely considering something increases its likelihood of happening.
  • Ruminations: Rumination-based OCD patients have thoughts that are neither repulsive nor distressing. Instead, they might be paradoxes in philosophy, religion, or metaphysics (essentially, questions without proven answers). Ruminations cause people to get stuck on a subject for a time and may cause them to put off tasks while they strive to come up with a solution. After spending so much time contemplating this issue, people may feel unsatisfied or empty because these issues frequently lack a conclusive answer.
  • Checking: A person with a checking fixation worries excessively about hurting himself or others if they are careless.

Types of OCD Treatment

Therapy & Counseling

Treatment for OCD may not provide a cure, but it can help keep symptoms under control, so they don’t interfere with your everyday life. Some patients may require long-term, continuous, or more extensive treatment, depending on how severe the OCD is.4

Psychotherapy and medications are the two basic OCD treatments. Treatment is frequently most successful when these are combined.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of psychotherapy that targets current issues and symptoms, focuses on the connections between ideas, feelings, and behaviors, and aims to change thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns that make it difficult to function.5
  • Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP): As a component of CBT therapy, ERP entails gradually exposing you to a feared object or fixation, like dirt, and teaching you how to manage the temptation to carry out your compulsive rituals. ERP requires work and practice, but once you learn to control your compulsions and obsessions, you might experience a higher quality of life.

Insurance may be able to help cover the cost of therapy. Find out if your insurance provider can help with the costs by filling in our confidential insurance verification form below.

OCD Medications

There are a host of OCD medication management services that can help reduce symptoms, including the following antidepressants approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):6

  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

You and your doctor can choose the best OCD medication to treat your symptoms and situation. However, telling your doctor about any adverse side effects from your prescriptions is important. You may need to try several different medications or a combination of drugs, or your doctor may need to adjust the dosage or schedule before finding the right one. Your symptoms should improve within a few weeks.

Other Types of Treatment Options

Psychotherapy and medication may not always be sufficient to control OCD symptoms. Alternative treatment for OCD could be provided in cases that are resistant to therapy and medication, including:

  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): When more conventional therapy options have failed to control OCD in people aged 22 to 68, the FDA approved TMS. TMS is a noninvasive treatment for OCD symptoms that stimulates brain nerve cells with magnetic fields. An electromagnetic coil is applied to your scalp near your forehead, and your brain’s nerve cells are stimulated by a magnetic pulse delivered by the electromagnet.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): During ACT, you’ll study many techniques for determining your life values and apply these techniques in your daily routine. The goal of ACT for OCD is to assist you in reaching a point where you can openly experience ideas, feelings, or body sensations without being overly disturbed by them.7
  • Programs for intensive treatment: People with OCD who struggle to function due to the severity of their symptoms may benefit from comprehensive treatment programs centered around ERP therapy concepts. These programs usually run for several weeks and can be inpatient or outpatient.
  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS): The FDA has approved DBS for persons 18 years of age and older with OCD who don’t respond to conventional treatment. DBS entails implanting electrodes in specific brain regions. Electrical impulses may help control abnormal impulses.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Most people who use EMDR do so to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It seeks to support you in processing painful experiences in a secure setting. It can also assist in treating OCD, according to research, so your symptoms will less influence your daily life.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR): PMR can be combined with a deep breathing technique to find concealed tension throughout the body.8
  • Teletherapy: There are many reasons why those needing assistance don’t seek out therapists. Various logistical problems, such as severe compulsions that make going into an office challenging, create barriers between therapists and those needing help. By providing a more convenient and frequently more economical option to receive the treatment you need for your symptoms, OCD teletherapy helps to break down some of these barriers.

OCD Treatment Costs & Insurance Coverage

Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, typically costs between $100 and $200 per session in the United States, depending on the state.9 In addition, name-brand drugs can cost hundreds of dollars for a month’s supply. For example, a month’s supply of Zoloft at 50 mg can cost up to $358, while a month’s supply of Paxil at 10 mg can cost up to $210.10

As the Affordable Care Act requires, many types of mental health conditions are covered by the majority of private health insurance policies, including those you may be able to receive through your employer. Additionally, some employers offer employee assistance programs, including therapy for mental health issues.

Treatment for mental health issues is also provided by Medicaid, most Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans, and Medicare Part A. If you don’t have access to health insurance, consider looking for a therapist who accepts payments on a sliding scale.11

Once you have found qualified OCD therapists knowledgeable and experienced in treating OCD, you should find out if they are in network with your insurance. Athena Care is in-network with most major insurance plans. Filling out our free and confidential online insurance verification form is the best method to determine the specifics of your OCD therapy insurance coverage.

A care coordinator can assist you with any questions or concerns regarding OCD therapy or insurance Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., at one of our multiple Tennessee-based behavioral and mental health clinics.

OCD Treatment Success & Outlook

When treating OCD, there is no such thing as a quick fix. Each person will have a unique experience with it. Your OCD type and the intensity of your symptoms will determine the kind of therapy you require, the skills you acquire, and the length of time you will need treatment.

People frequently have the impression that treatment would make them feel better immediately. While occasionally true, you typically feel worse before you start to feel better. Therefore, feeling worse is usually a sign that therapy is effective. Fortunately, the outlook for most OCD sufferers is good. They may manage their obsessions and compulsions and enjoy life with the help of medication, psychotherapy, or both.

Below are a few success outcomes and statistics on therapy for OCD:

  • Overall, clinically significant improvements in OCD symptoms are seen in 50–60% of patients who complete Exposure and Response (ERP) treatment. Furthermore, these improvements have been found to be long-lasting.12
  • According to research, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) successfully treats OCD in up to 75% of people who seek it out as a form of care.13
  • In a study on CBT following Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for people with severe OCD, CBT efficiently managed and treated severe OCD symptoms.14
  • In a different trial of CBT for OCD, it was discovered that even virtual (teletherapy) CBT sessions carried out over ten weeks improved depression symptoms and quality of life while reducing total OCD symptoms.15
  • In a randomized control trial contrasting CBT with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), it was discovered that both significantly reduced OCD symptoms after the study and at the six-month checkpoint.16
  • According to studies examining the efficacy of deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for treating OCD, roughly 45% of patients reported fewer OCD symptoms one month after treatment.17
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was found to be more effective than Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) in the treatment of OCD, with clinically meaningful changes in OCD severity happening more frequently in the ACT condition than PMR.18


  1. International OCD Foundation. “What Is OCD?” International OCD Foundation, 9 Sept. 2022, iocdf.org/about-ocd.
  2. “Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, 11 Mar. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20354432.
  3. “5 Common Types of OCD.” St. Luke’s Health, 27 Sept. 2019, www.stlukeshealth.org/resources/5-common-types-ocd.
  4. Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Diagnosis and Treatment – Mayo Clinic. 11 Mar. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354438.
  5. “PTSD Treatments.” American Psychological Association, July 2017, www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/treatments.
  6. “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” Mayo Clinic, 6 July 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355973.
  7. International OCD Foundation. “What Is ACT?” International OCD Foundation, 5 Aug. 2020, iocdf.org/expert-opinions/expert-opinion-what-is-act.
  8. Kelly, Owen PhD. “How to Improve Your OCD Self-Help Strategy With Relaxation Techniques.” Verywell Mind, 15 Dec. 2020, www.verywellmind.com/relaxation-is-an-essential-ocd-self-help-technique-2510635.
  9. Lauretta, Ashley. “How Much Does Therapy Cost?” Forbes Health, 27 June 2022, www.forbes.com/health/mind/how-much-does-therapy-cost.
  10. Croot, Emily. “The Financial Costs of Anxiety.” Thrive Global, 10 Jan. 2019, thriveglobal.com/stories/the-financial-costs-of-anxiety.
  11. Stanborough, Rebecca Joy MFA. “What Are the Treatment Options for OCD?” Healthline, 4 Feb. 2021, www.healthline.com/health/therapy-for-ocd.
  12. Law, Clara, and Christina L Boisseau. “Exposure and Response Prevention in the Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Current Perspectives.” Psychology research and behavior management vol. 12 1167-1174. 24 Dec. 2019, doi:10.2147/PRBM.S211117
  13. What Is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)? | OCD-UK. www.ocduk.org/overcoming-ocd/cognitive-behavioural-therapy. Accessed 27 Sept. 2022.
  14. Görmezoğlu, Meltem et al. “Effectiveness, Timing and Procedural Aspects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy after Deep Brain Stimulation for Therapy-Resistant Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Systematic Review.” Journal of clinical medicine vol. 9,8 2383. 26 Jul. 2020, doi:10.3390/jcm9082383
  15. Patel, Sapana R., et al. “Acceptability, Feasibility, and Effectiveness of Internet-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in New York.” Behavior Therapy, vol. 49, no. 4, Elsevier BV, July 2018, pp. 631–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2017.09.003.
  16. Marsden, Zoe et al. “A randomized controlled trial comparing EMDR and CBT for obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Clinical psychology & psychotherapy vol. 25,1 (2018): e10-e18. doi:10.1002/cpp.2120
  17. International OCD Foundation. “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for OCD.” International OCD Foundation, 18 Aug. 2022, iocdf.org/about-ocd/ocd-treatment/tms.
  18. International OCD Foundation. “What Is ACT?” International OCD Foundation, 5 Aug. 2020, iocdf.org/expert-opinions/expert-opinion-what-is-act.

If you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from mental health disorders, contact Athena Care today.

One of our friendly associates will help you get the help you need. Take this first step to feel better and take control. 

(615) 320-1155