Obsessive Compulsive Disorder affects approximately 2.3% of the US population, outranking schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and panic disorder. Although the term “OCD” has become part of the vernacular, and many people may say they, or a loved one, are “a little OCD,” true Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder that ranges in severity from mild to debilitating. To meet criteria for OCD, a person must exhibit both obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that either: cause marked distress, consume a significant amount of time each day, and/or impair daily functioning.
People of all ages typically respond well to appropriate treatment of OCD; however, misdiagnosis and/or inappropriate treatment can make symptoms worse. The gold-standard of treatment is a form of cognitive behavior therapy called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). A referral to a psychiatrist or psychiatric APRN for adjunctive pharmacotherapy may be also be recommended, as research indicates that a combination of behavior therapy and medication may lead to the greatest symptom reduction.