While there is no single cure for OCD, treatment can significantly reduce symptoms and improve functioning. Learn about OCD treatments.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that includes recurring obsessive thoughts and the urge to perform repetitive behaviors. OCD can be a long-lasting, debilitating condition, and those who are diagnosed may wonder whether there is a cure for OCD.

While there is currently no cure for OCD, a number of researchers and psychiatrists are looking for a way to permanently manage symptoms so that people struggling with OCD can live their lives normally without distress.

Managing Chronic OCD

OCD is a long-lasting or chronic illness that can require ongoing management to minimize symptoms. Following a diagnosis of OCD, education is an important first step in managing obsessions and compulsions.

Strategies that help with managing OCD symptoms may be taught initially by a psychiatrist but can be implemented by a patient on their own. These can include breaking the association between certain things or situations and feelings of anxiety.

Using evidence-based strategies can help reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms and may even cause remission in OCD symptoms in some people.

OCD Treatment Options

There are different treatment options for OCD that may suit some people better than others. Treating OCD and managing OCD symptoms is an ongoing process, and should be guided by evidence-based treatment strategies led by a trained professional.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT for OCD encourages patients to use logic and reason to challenge irrational thoughts or behaviors. This type of therapy is common and effective in other types of anxiety-related disorders.
  • Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP): Exposure therapy for OCD aims to extinguish or ‘unlearn’ the fear or anxiety response related to objects or situations. Exposure and response prevention helps a person grow accustomed to whatever produces fear and anxiety-related symptoms.
  • Medication: Medication may also be appropriate for treating OCD. Some types of antidepressants are effective in managing OCD symptoms, though people who do not respond to antidepressants may be prescribed antipsychotic medication for OCD.

Experimental Treatments and Research

Due to the debilitating and long lasting nature of OCD, research on effective OCD treatment is ongoing. Some experimental OCD treatments that have undergone clinical trials include deep brain stimulation, online delivery of cognitive therapies and new medications like N-Acetyl Cysteine. These OCD studies are in the early stages or not widely available, but hold promise for effectively treating OCD symptoms.

Is a Future Cure Possible?

Ongoing research in the area of OCD means that there is possibility for new OCD treatments in the future. While a singular or simple cure for OCD is unlikely, there are many treatment options that can be used on their own or in combination to reduce or even eliminate the symptoms of OCD.

If you or someone you love is suffering from OCD and a co-occuring substance abuse disorder, contact The Recovery Village today to discuss available treatment options.

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Editor – Daron Christopher
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Sarah Dash, PHD
Dr. Sarah Dash is a postdoctoral research fellow based in Toronto. Sarah completed her PhD in Nutritional Psychiatry at the Food and Mood Centre at Deakin University in 2017. Read more

Fenske, Jill N., Petersen, Ketti. “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Diagnosis and Management.” American Family Physician, November 2015. Accessed September 14, 2019.

Kellner, Michael. “Drug treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 2010. Accessed September 14, 2019.

Naesström,Matilda., Blomstedt, Patric., Bodlund, Owe. “A systematic review of psychiatric indic[…]compulsive disorder.” Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 2016. Accessed September 14, 2019.

Hirschtritt, Matthew E.,  Bloch, Michael H. Mathews, Carol A. “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Advances in Diagnosis and Treatment.” JAMA, April 4, 2017. Accessed September 14, 2019.

Oliver, Georgina et al. “N-Acetyl Cysteine in the Treatment of Ob[…]A Systematic Review.” Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience April, 2015. Accessed September 14, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with 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 providers.