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How Can I Help Myself?

For most people, OCD can be successfully overcome. There are two main ways of treating it: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medication, and these can be used separately or together. However, CBT is generally preferred because it lasts longer and tends to have fewer side-effects. Medication may be recommended as an additional treatment if your OCD is severe, or as a short-term measure while you are waiting for CBT.

The first effective psychological treatment for OCD was exposure and response prevention. This means deliberately and repeatedly facing your fears or obsessions, and not responding to them. In this way, you gradually become used to them, and your fear begins to subside. But not everyone feels able to go through with this treatment. The technique has been refined by CBT, which focuses on changing the meaning of intrusive thoughts and urges (the 'cognitive' part) as well as altering the way you respond to the obsessions (the 'behaviour' part). The CBT approach is about breaking out of the cycle of obsession, anxiety and response described above. It involves thinking about the meaning you attach to thoughts and events and developing alternative responses to them.