How is OCD treated?

waterCognitive Behaviour Therapy

The most effective psychological treatment for OCD is cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). CBT for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder involves learning to approach feared situations without performing mental and behavioural actions (exposure and response prevention therapy - ERPT).

Such treatment can reduce or eliminate the obsessions and/or rituals and has been found to demonstrate superior effectiveness to medication. Additionally the benefits of CBT are usually maintained better over the long term.

Preliminary evidence suggests that CBT delivered in group and internet-based formats is also effective.

Other psychological treatment

Other psychological treatments used include one or more of the following:
  • Education about OCD
  • Advice to resist carrying out compulsions
  • Anxiety management assistance
  • Counselling
  • Assistance with making lifestyle and personality changes

However, these have not been found to be as effective as CBT with ERPT.

Family involvement in therapy is sometimes helpful, especially if family members help the person with OCD carry out the rituals


The most effective medication for OCD is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSRIs) ; however, treatment gains are modest and usually only persist while the medication is taken.

In some cases, medication for partial symptom relief, through SSRIs or tricyclic antidepressants, can help people feel more willing to give CBT with ERPT a go

Last Updated : 14-Oct-2013