Why is it recommendable that a person with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) be treated, and are there any foreseeable strengths and weaknesses in currently known treatments?

Expert Answers
Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) should be encouraged to seek treatment because they can find relief from their symptoms. One downside to finding treatment, is that it can take 14 to 17 years for an OCD patient to find the right treatment, but that's only because patients tend to hide their symptoms; not all health professionals have the correct training to treat OCD; and not all therapists can effectively treat it either ("Treatment of OCD"). However, there are three known treatments for OCD, and being aware of what to look for as a patient can help speed up the process of finally finding the right treatment.

One known treatment is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). It has been found that 7 out of 10 patients treated with CBT find relief from their symptoms with a 60%-80% reduction in symptoms. However, one reason why the results of CBT are less than ideally desired is because patients must actively participate in the treatment in order to receive any benefit, and 1 out of 4 OCD patients refuse to participate ("Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)"). There are several kinds of CBT, but the one known to work best is called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). The ERP treatment is a two-step process. The "exposure" step consists of exposing an OCD patient to the "thoughts, images, objects and situations" that induce anxiety in the OCD patient thereby forcing the patient to confront his/her anxieties. The "response prevention" step consists of encouraging an OCD patient from abstaining from a compulsive behavior after being exposed to the anxiety trigger ("Cognitive Behavior Therapy"). During the treatment, an OCD patient must stay committed to not performing the compulsive behavior until the patient notices a drop in his/her anxiety level; we call this natural drop in anxiety level habituation. Though this may sound counterintuitive to an OCD patient, ERP works on the principle that the brain sends out signals to warn a person he/she "'might be' in danger," enabling a person to respond to the danger; however, for a person with OCD, the sense of danger is generally unrealistic, and each compulsive behavior actually fuels the brain's belief that there is a real danger, increasing the anxiety level of the person with OCD. Therefore, in order for a person with OCD to reduce anxiety levels, the person must "stop the compulsive behavior" ("Cognitive Behavior Therapy").

Another treatment for OCD beyond therapy is medication. It's found that 7 out of 10 people find relief from OCD symptoms using medication with a reduction in symptoms by 40% to 60% ("Medicine for OCD"). Since medication is not as effective as therapy, most OCD patients find that they need a combination of both medication and some form of therapy like ERP. Medications that work for relieving OCD symptoms are antidepressants, such as citalopram, clomipramine, escitalopram, fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, paroxetine, setraline, and venlafaxine. Antidepressants help relieve symptoms because many individuals who have OCD also develop depression; however, an OCD patient should be aware that not all antidepressants relieve OCD symptoms, and the medications known not to work at all are imipramine and amitriptyline.

thewanderlust878 | Student

I believe that it is recommended because untreated, it could lead to a lot worse things. Someone with untreated Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, in any form, could bring harm to people around them and those they love. Not only will they begin to harm others, mostly by trying to tell them how to live their lives, but they might also try and harm themselves. 

rachellopez | Student

People should seek treatment for OCD because they can cure the symptoms they get from it. OCD isn't something we hear about all the time and people often become embarrassed about having it. According to ocfoundation.org "it takes 14-17 years from the time OCD begins for people to get the right treatment". A lot of the times people don't even know they have it.

First you must be informed about which type you have and the problems that come with it. After that you have to find a treatment, whether it's on your own or with a group. Different treatments will work for different people, just like with any other condition.

One common treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, where you are "exposed to the source of your obsession... then asked to refrain from the compulsive behavior you’d usually perform to reduce your anxiety." I feel like that would take a while for your anxiety to stop, but that it would eventually help. You could also have therapy with your family or a group with the same issue. The real con with all of this is you don't know what will help best unless you try it.

In my opinion (even though I don't have hand on experience) is that you could cure yourself by just identifying that there is a problem and having self control. This wouldn't be an easy thing to do but afterwards you would have a great accomplishment and feel a lot better about yourself. There are a lot of articles you could read on this topic and there are a lot of strengths to getting treatments, they may just take time.