Extra Help for OCD
Recovering from obsessive compulsive-disorder (OCD) may include talking with a support group, family, friends, and a therapist and taking medication. Family members and friends who are willing to read information on OCD can be of great assistance by acting as ‘support persons.’ At every stage of recovery, they can offer important input or action:
Avoid asking for help from friends and relatives who are pushy, controlling, inept, disinterested, or rigid. Attempts to involve them in your recovery or make them change will only slow you down. Be cautious of bad advice. Input that makes you obsess even more is probably incorrect. Watch out for people who discourage recovery. They may be too helpful and offer to do things for or with you so you won’t have to ‘get upset.’ As you start to recover, they may become suspicious, jealous, accusatory, irritable, or even start to obsess themselves!
NATIONAL NETWORKS AND SUPPORT GROUPS
If you are fortunate, you will be able to find one or two people who will give you appropriate assistance. However, this is not necessary. Many people do just fine on their own or working with a therapist. You may also be able to find a support group in your community. There are national networks, web sites, and books that offer additional assistance:
Antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Celexa and Paxil increase serotonin levels in the brain and have been very effective in treating OCD. Luvox is similar to these medications and is more helpful in treating OCD than depression. The herb Saint-John’s-wort helps in some cases. At times, medication completely relieves symptoms of OCD or makes them ‘livable.’ Often, behavior treatment is needed in addition to medication. It is especially important that women who plan to become pregnant at some time in their lives learn how to reduce or eliminate symptoms without medication. In mild to moderate cases of OCD when depression is not present, behavior strategies may be the treatment of choice. Behavior treatment can change brain chemistry but initially requires discipline and effort.
Therapists are especially helpful when using aggressive behavior therapy techniques of exposure and ritual prevention. First exposing yourself to OCD triggers through imagery can make actual contact with difficult objects and situations much easier. There are several treatment approaches that can make imagery practice less painful when first starting your recovery program. Therapists can also identify and treat any depression, panic disorder, or impulse control disorder that is contributing to your problems.