Either psychotherapy or medication, or both, may be prescribed for OCD
, and patients may respond better to one form of treatment than to the other.
Studies conducted by the NIMH, however, show that combination drug-psychotherapy is best for young people. The drugs given are typically one of the so-called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The SSRIs fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), and paroxetine (Paxil) have been specifically approved for the treatment of OCD
. These drugs have been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of obsessions and compulsions in more than half of patients, although discontinuation of drugs often leads to relapse.
Behavioral therapy for OCD
tends to produce long-lasting effects. Psychotherapy generally focuses on two aspects of the disorder: unraveling the irrational thoughts involved in the condition and gradually exposing sufferers to the feared object or idea until they are desensitized to it and can tolerate anxiety without engaging in compulsive rituals.