Obsessive Compulsive Disorder : Psychological Disease : Tests & Treatment

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which people have thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions). A person may have both obsessions and compulsions.

Tests & Diagnostics

Your own description of the behavior can help diagnose the disorder. A physical exam can rule out physical causes, and a psychiatric evaluation can rule out other mental disorders.
Questionnaires, such as the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale, can help diagnose OCD and track the progress of treatment.


OCD is treated using medications and therapy.
The first medication usually considered is a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). These drugs include:

  1. Citalopram (Celexa)
  2. Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  3. Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  4. Paroxetine (Paxil)
  5. Sertraline (Zoloft)

If an SSRI does not work, the doctor may prescribe an older antidepressant called clomipramine. Clomipramine is the oldest medication for OCD. It works better than SSRI antidepressants in treating the condition, but it has unpleasant side effects, including:

  1. Difficulty starting urination
  2. Drop in blood pressure when rising from a seated position
  3. Dry mouth
  4. Sleepiness

In some cases, an SSRI and clomipramine may be combined. Other medications such as benzodiazepines may offer some relief from anxiety, but they are generally used only with the more reliable treatments.
Psychotherapy is used to:

  1. Provide effective ways of reducing stress
  2. Reduce anxiety
  3. Resolve inner conflicts

Behavioral therapy may include exposure/response prevention: You are exposed many times to a situation that triggers anxiety symptoms, and learn to resist the urge to perform the compulsion.

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