Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

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Prognosis and Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The course of the disease is quite varied. Symptoms may come and go, ease over time, or get worse. If OCD becomes severe, it can keep a person from working or carrying out normal responsibilities at home. People with OCD may try to help themselves by avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions, or they may use alcohol or drugs to calm themselves.

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.


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the psychotherapeutic intervention used with children, adolescents, and adults with OCD. In CBT, people learn to change their thoughts and feelings by first changing their behavior. Exposure and response prevention are combined to help the person internalize a strategy for resisting obsessions and compulsions. Exposure is generally more helpful in decreasing anxiety and obsessions, while response prevention is more helpful in decreasing compulsive behaviors.

Other techniques include thought stopping and distraction (suppressing or "switching off" OCD symptoms), satiation (prolonged listening to an obsession usually using a closed-loop audiotape), habit reversal (replacing an OCD ritual with a similar but non-OCD behavior), and contingency management (using rewards and costs as incentives for ritual prevention) may sometimes be helpful but are generally less effective than standard CBT.

People react differently to psychotherapy, just as they do to medicine. CBT is relatively free of side effects, but all patients will have some anxiety during treatment. CBT can be done on an individual basis, in a group or with a family.


Neurofeedback is emerging as a promising alternative or complementary approach to treating OCD. Preliminary research done by Cory Hammond, Ph.D. (2002) on the use of neurofeedback and QEEG for the treatment of OCD has indicated positive short-term and long-term results.

Neurofeedback works to alter neurochemical and neuroelectrical systims thus improving arousal and balance of the nervous systim. EEG biofeedback first had success with epilepsy in the work of Barry Stermann. Since then, the clinical application of EEG biofeedback has widened to encompass many disorders including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

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