Using Benzos For The Treatment of OCD

Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants are most commonly prescribed for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). One of the most commonly prescribed medications are benzodiazepines, also referred to as benzos. Benzodiazepines can help reduce anxiety, but not without various side effects and risks.

Article at a Glance:

  • Though not regularly recommended for treatment of OCD, benzodiazepine medications can improve symptoms related to anxiety.
  • These medications are not meant as a treatment, but instead a temporary relief while seeking other treatment.
  • Benzodiazepine medications are highly addictive and should only be taken short term and as prescribed by the physician.

The medical conditions that a physician may prescribe a benzodiazepine for include:

Benzodiazepines are generally prescribed to patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder who have not had much improvement while using Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) medications. Benzodiazepines are frequently used as a sedative and anti-anxiety medication for generalized anxiety disorder. Because of the sedating effects, benzodiazepines are most beneficial if OCD is affecting the patient’s ability to relax and sleep. Some commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include Valium, Ativan and Xanax.

Xanax and OCD

Xanax is a fast-acting benzodiazepine medication used to treat anxiety symptoms and panic attacks. While Xanax is a legal medication, it can be easily abused and is highly addictive. Patients with OCD are not usually prescribed Xanax unless other medications have not shown improvement.

Taking Xanax can create additional symptoms for someone with OCD.  Although Xanax can help suppress some of the anxiety symptoms that are associated with OCD.

Ativan and OCD

Ativan is another benzodiazepine medication that is similar to Xanax. Ativan is primarily used for the treatment of anxiety and OCD rarely. Because anxiety usually accompanies OCD, Ativan may help reduce the anxiety associated with OCD. Ativan is a safer medication because Xanax can be harmful to the body by creating physical and emotional dependence on it. Ativan has less potential for abuse and helps control anxiety.

Even though Ativan helps with symptoms of anxiety, it does not provide relief for other symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Other medications may be well suited for specific symptoms.

Valium and OCD

Valium, like other benzodiazepine medications, is not helpful for treating OCD, instead, it may work as a temporary relief to reduce symptoms until proper treatment is sought. Valium can offer short-term relief from many anxious feelings while also helping muscles relax.

If you or someone you know is living with  OCD and a benzodiazepine use disorder, The Recovery Village offers co-occurring disorder treatment by mental health professionals. Call The Recovery Village to speak to a representative and begin the recovery process today. “Use of benzodiazepines in obsessive-compulsive disorder”  January 2013, accessed December 4, 2018

Bostwick, J. “Benzodiazepines: A versatile clinical tool” Current Psychiatry. April 2012, accessed December 4, 2018.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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