What can be done to help OCD patients?
In the past, OCD was considered one of most difficult mental disorders to treat successfully. New anti-depressant medications show promise with OCD. Unfortunately, patients are often not helped by drug therapy alone, and traditional therapeutic approaches are only of limited usefulness.
What is Cognitive-Behavior Therapy and how does it work?
Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) is based upon the idea that OCD symptoms represent inappropriate dysfunctional beliefs about possible dangers that result in habitual learned responses that can be unlearned. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is the specific method of helping patients confront obsessively feared situations, and at the same learn new, more appropriate responses in those situations. ERP conducted with a highly skilled and experienced therapist is a powerful tool for helping sufferers overcome their fears and live normal, productive lives. The treatment is conducted using a format that is geared to the needs of the patient:
For mild to moderate cases of OCD, most patients can be helped with one hour sessions conducted one to three times per week. Patients typically can be significantly helped in eight to fifteen sessions. For severe cases, where the symptoms are highly disruptive to the patient’s life, those patients are best treated using an intensive treatment format. For information on the Intensive Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program.
Who can benefit from Cognitive-Behavior Therapy?
Most OCD patients, both adults and children, can benefit enormously from cognitive-behavior therapy. Recent studies indicate that cognitive-behavior therapy is essential to successful recovery from OCD. While not a cure all, behavior therapy offers the patient tools to successfully manage the disorder and live a fuller life. To be effective, the patient must be prepared to commit to several weeks during which he/she will be actively mastering previously feared situations, and learning more appropriate ways of handling them rather than using repetitive, compulsive behaviors.
Just what is involved in CBT treatment?
After the initial evaluation, the patient is provided an individually tailored cognitive-behavioral treatment regimen geared to helping control his/her obsessions by gradual exposure and habituation to feared situations. During this time, the patient is helped to resist engaging in compulsive rituals. Considerable home practice is often needed. Dr. Hyman frequently makes use of a behavioral assistant who assists him in carrying out the treatment procedures at home. Gradually, the patient learns to master formerly feared situations without the need to ritualize.
How successful is Cognitive-Behavior Therapy? Does it really work?
Studies conducted with thousands of OCD patients at leading research centers nationwide indicate that patients who undergo exposure and response prevention treatment have demonstrated success rates as high as 90%. However, many factors affect progress, including motivation, compliance to treatment, general health, and other psychological conditions.
How much does treatment cost?
Less than you may think. Being an active, symptom-focused treatment approach, behavior therapy brings more rapid results in much shorter time than more traditional “talk” therapy, which could drag on for years with little improvement. Most health insurance will reimburse for much of the cost of treatment. Check your individual insurance plan for details.
To learn more about OCD, visit the OCD FAQs page.