Currently, there is no clear evidence about what treatments are best for OCPD, but a combination of therapy and medications could reduce symptoms.
Like the other nine personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is notoriously difficult to treat. With personality disorders, a medical professional is not addressing a short-term state of mind or a temporary set of behaviors. Instead, they are treating long-standing traits that have become ingrained over a lifetime.
Though the condition may be challenging, don’t be deterred. Treatments for OCPD are available to manage the symptoms. By understanding the condition and available treatment options, a person can learn to manage OCPD effectively.
Psychotherapy for OCPD
Many personality disorder treatments focus on psychotherapy to target and reshape the problematic traits that are creating distress. To this point, there has been limited evidence-based examination regarding which therapy styles work best and how they create change.
Because of this gap in the research, mental health professionals must employ techniques and therapies that are successful in treating other disorders. Some talk therapy options for OCPD include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
A common therapy option, CBT is used by therapists to address many mental health and substance use issues including depression, anxiety and addiction. This kind of therapy may be useful for OCPD treatment as well.
In CBT, the therapist acts as a teacher and a teammate to educate and help people understand the connections between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. During this process, the therapist will help a person recognize core beliefs and how these affect happiness and relationships.
A person who has OCPD may believe that perfectionism is a positive trait, and that they must control their environment and the people within it to achieve success. A therapist can attempt to point out the flaws in this way of thinking and provide alternatives.
Some research shows CBT to be useful for OCPD while other studies show no improvements from the treatment style.
Psychodynamic therapy uses the principles of psychoanalysis and transference-focused therapy. In psychodynamic therapy, the aim is to help patients appreciate the connection between past experiences and current feelings and actions by understanding unconscious thoughts.
In terms of OCPD, this approach makes sense. Experts theorize that the need for perfectionism and control arises from a desire for attention or acceptance from parents who were unavailable or overly harsh. Tapping into this connection could create the needed change.
Psychodynamic therapy teaches that people need insight into their conditions for progress to occur. The problem is that people with OCPD commonly have poor insight and usually blame others, instead of taking responsibility for their behavior. This barrier could hinder treatment.
Studies have not proven psychodynamic therapy effective for OCPD, but it remains a frequent recommendation from therapists.
Though prescribers and researchers have attempted to limit the symptoms of OCPD with multiple medications including benzodiazepines, stimulants and antipsychotics, no one type of drug has shown exceptional effectiveness.
Currently, experts believe antidepressants and anticonvulsants may offer the most benefit. These medications could be used in the short-term to manage symptoms of depression and high stress or in the long-term to maintain lasting improvements.
Since there are no specific medications designed for OCPD, a person will need to find a prescriber with experience addressing the condition. Much of the treatment may involve trial and error.
Alternative Treatments for OCPD
With the lack of proven success with traditional forms of therapy for OCPD, people are exploring novel approaches to improve the condition. Some alternative treatments currently being investigated are relaxation therapy and nidotherapy.
A variety of relaxation techniques can prove helpful for managing the stress and tension triggered by OCPD. Some useful relaxation skills include:
- Deep breathing
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Autogenic training
Spend some time practicing these strategies for a few weeks. With consistency and patience, these techniques can lower stress and make tough situations more manageable.
A newer form of treatment, nidotherapy, is not therapy in a traditional sense. Rather than working to change the person to fit their surrounds, nidotherapy changes the environment to match the person.
Nidotherapy will not try to decrease a person’s perfectionism or need for control. It strives to put the person in a situation where their personality characteristics are assets, not drawbacks.
As mentioned, nidotherapy is a recent therapy approach and has not been tested and studied well. However, this style of therapy may produce favorable results for some people, especially for those with personality disorders.
With so much uncertainty in the landscape of professional OCPD treatment, a person may feel inclined to explore self-help options. Self-help utilizes a person’s drive and motivation for change to create results.
Self-help is a great option. However, a person can still rely on a trusted support network in the process. This practice could boost relationships and improve a person’s mental health.
Treating OCPD and Co-Occurring Disorders
People with OCPD may have increased rates of substance use. If you are using alcohol or other drugs to cope with the pressures linked to OCPD, you’re not alone.
When seeking treatment, you should always inspect how the treatment facility manages co-occurring disorders. In dual-diagnosis treatment, both conditions can be approached at the same time to understand the interconnected nature of substance use and personality disorders. Fortunately, treatment approaches for OCPD like CBT, medications and relaxation therapy are also effective for substance use disorders.
To learn more about treatment or to begin the process for yourself or a loved one, call The Recovery Village today. The Recovery Village’s staff understand the proven strategies for managing substance use and other mental health disorders through in-person treatment and online rehab. Calling could change your life.
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National Institute of Mental Health. “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.” January 2016. Accessed March 2, 2019.
Nidotherapy.com. “What is Nidotherapy?” (n.d.). Accessed March 2, 2019.
Van Noppen, Barbara. “Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD).” International OCD Foundation, 2010. Accessed March 2, 2019.
Rajesh, Alex, et. al. “Pharmacological Interventions for Obsess[…]Personality Disorder.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 12, 2010. Accessed March 2, 2019.
Rajesh, Alex, et. al. “Psychological Interventions for Obsessiv[…]Personality Disorder.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 12, 2010. Accessed March 2, 2019.
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedLine Plus. “Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.” November 18, 2016. Accessed March 2, 2019.
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.