If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), you may feel you are the only person facing the difficulties of this illness. But you are not alone. In the United States, 1 in 50 adults currently has OCD, and twice that many have had it at some point in their lives. Fortunately, very effective treatments for OCD are now available to help you regain a more satisfying life. Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions about OCD.
Once OCD symptoms are eliminated or much reduced - a goal which is practical for the majority of those with OCD - then maintenance of treatment gains becomes the goal.
When patients have completed a successful course of treatment for OCD, most experts recommend monthly follow-up visits for at least 6 months and continued treatment for at least 1 year before trying to stop medications or CBT.
Relapse is very common when medication is withdrawn, particularly if the person has not had the benefit of CBT. Therefore, many experts recommend that patients continue medication if they do not have access to CBT.
Individuals who have repeated episodes of OCD may need to receive long-term or even lifelong prophylactic medication. The experts recommend such long-term treatment after 2 to 4 severe relapses or 3 to 4 milder relapses.
When someone has done well with maintenance treatment and does not need long-term medication, most experts suggest discontinuing medication only very gradually, while giving CBT booster sessions to prevent relapse. Gradual medication withdrawal usually involves lowering the dose by 25% and then waiting 2 months before lowering it again, depending on how the person responds. Because OCD is a lifetime waxing and waning condition, you should always feel comfortable returning to your clinician if your OCD symptoms come back.