Medication vs. Exposure Therapy

meds vs erpI have always been honest about my personal experience with OCD on this blog.  Faithful readers are well aware of my mama-bear protective instincts in regard to my medication.  I take Prozac, Effexor XR, and Risperdal each day and am utterly unapologetic about it.

That said, I completely understand that others have their own reasons (personal, medical, or otherwise) for avoiding medication, and that is perfectly fine by me (so long as no one tries to rob me of my meds, haha!).

People sometimes ask, Is it possible for me to treat my OCD and avoid medication all together?

While the answer varies from person to person, the best response I can give is that YES, it has been done with ERP (exposure and response prevention therapy) alone.  In fact, were I pushed to choose between my three daily doses of meds or my 12 weeks of ERP, it would be one of the easiest decisions of my life to choose ERP.

Every person is different.  I have an obsessive-compulsive friend who treats her OCD with only meds– she has never undergone ERP.  The son of one of my blogger friends uses only his tools gained from ERP– no meds.  Then there’s me, a girl who wants(/needs?) a full arsenal to treat her disorder.

So, what will it be for you?

The best treatment is ERP, hands down.  Start there.  See how you do.  If you can find an OCD specialist whom you trust, you may try to fold meds into the mix if you find that you need them.  It’s (unfortunately) a trial-and-error kind of thing.

Will you be okay without meds?  Maybe.  You’ll have to discover that for yourself.
Has it been done before?  Absolutely.

Hope that is helpful!

10 thoughts on “Medication vs. Exposure Therapy

  1. hello, i am so happy to have run into your blog. i have a partner who has OCD. for example, he thinks certain foods are “poisoned”. when he goes to my shampoos, he thinks that they may have been contaminated by someone “evil”, etc. do you think it’s possible for ME to help him with exposure therapy? any advice? he has seen a therapist before when he was younger and i believe he stopped going when he finally managed his OCD. now that we are away at college, when he is under stress, i notice that his OCD is retriggered, rather than when we are back home. thanks in advance.

  2. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the medication works (I use Zoloft 125 mg). I still kinda kick myself for not using medication sooner. It has been nothing short of awesome. All I can say to someone suffering from OCD is that it decreases the frequency and intensity of one’s thoughts. This should make sense since serotonin as an inhibitory neurotransmitter which is what most medications used to treat OCD are (SSRIs). I would only urge anyone who uses medication to consult with a psychiatrist. These medications work best on a tapering on (or off, whatever the case may be) schedule. It minimizes side effects and increases the chances that particular medication will work for you. Hands down best decision I’ve made in treating OCD and a close second is ERP. I would still choose ERP over medication, because ERP has longer lasting results. I don’t know if I would have been able to go through ERP if I wasn’t on some medication though.

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