Key Practices to Treating OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has been defined as a neuropsychiatric condition characterized by recurrent, distressing thoughts and repetitive behaviors or mental rituals that are performed to reduce anxiety. According to the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation, one in 50 American adults has OCD; twice that many have had it at some point in their lives. An Unrecognized Problem The Obsessive Compulsive Foundation also notes that, on average, people with OCD see three to four doctors and spend 9 years seeking treatment before they receive a correct diagnosis. It takes an average of 17 years from the time OCD begins for people to obtain appropriate treatment. “OCD tends to be underdiagnosed and undertreated for a number of reasons,” explains Jill N. Fenske, MD. “People with OCD are often secretive about their symptoms. Symptoms are often accompanied by feelings of shame because patients realize the thoughts and behaviors are excessive or unreasonable. This secrecy, along with a lack of recognition of OCD symptoms by physicians, often leads to a long delay in diagnosis and treatment.” Many primary care physicians (PCPs) and other healthcare providers are unfamiliar with OCD symptoms or are inadequately trained in the provision of appropriate treatments, adds Dr. Fenske. “OCD has a reputation of being difficult to treat, but there are many effective therapies available. As clinicians, it’s imperative to strive for an earlier diagnosis and proper treatment with the right medications or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) so that patients can avoid the suffering associated with OCD. A PCP can help by spotting clues regarding the presence of obsessions or compulsions.” Clinical Recommendations Dr. Fenske and Thomas L. Schwenk, MD, published...