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OCD Treatment in Atlanta

Written By: Erika Dalton, LCSW
Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Rahul Gupta, MD
Last Updated: January 31, 2024

Home » Mental Health » Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that affects 2-3% of Americans, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA). OCD is considered a type of anxiety disorder because symptoms of OCD trigger anxiety. Furthermore, people with OCD struggle with intrusive thoughts as well as irrational behavioral responses to these thoughts. These symptoms are called obsessions and compulsions.

depiction of woman with overwhelming obsessive thoughts

What Are Common Barriers to OCD Treatment?

Because of these symptoms, OCD can be debilitating and many with the disorder don’t seek treatment. Oftentimes, they feel significant shame about their symptoms. Most people with OCD realize their obsessions and compulsions are irrational, yet they can’t stop them. So, people with OCD struggle to open up about their symptoms for fear of judgment and ridicule.

In addition, many people with OCD feel shame over the nature of their obsessive thoughts. This is because obsessive thoughts often involve fear of losing control and harming others—usually loved ones. Or, their obsessions involve taboo topics, especially regarding religious or sexual subject matter. They often internalize these obsessions—believing something is deeply wrong with themselves.

Another obstacle with OCD is that when the person tries to control their obsessive thoughts, the thoughts strengthen and get worse. But, once a person with OCD recognizes that they have a disorder, they can start to heal from these symptoms.

Check Out Our Mental Health Facility in Atlanta, GA

Check Out Our Mental Health Facility in Atlanta, GA


How is OCD Treated in Atlanta?

The most common way to treat OCD is a combination of therapy and psychiatric medications. During therapy, clients can talk about how OCD affects them. They can also learn more about the disorder, which helps the person recognize when they are having symptoms.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common type of psychotherapy for OCD. The core principle of CBT is that psychological issues are caused by irrational thoughts or beliefs. This is also connected to our behavioral patterns. So, if clients can confront their thoughts and beliefs, they can change their psychological state and behavioral patterns.

Furthermore, a variation of CBT called exposure and response prevention (ERP) is most effective for OCD. During ERP, a therapist guides the client through exposure to any triggers that provoke obsessions or compulsions. Clients then learn healthy ways to respond to these triggers.

Our OCD treatment in Atlanta can also include psychiatric medications that help relieve the anxiety and depression that commonly co-occur with OCD.

Which Medications Treat OCD?

Psychiatric medications have been proven effective in treating OCD. According to the International OCD Foundation, serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), traditionally used as antidepressants, also reduce symptoms of OCD.

SRIs that help with OCD include the following:

  • Luvox
  • Zoloft
  • Celexa
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Paxil
  • Anafranil
  • Effexor

The International OCD Foundation states that people taking SRIs “usually see their OCD symptoms reduced by 40-60%.” However, medication combined with therapy is the best approach to treating OCD. In addition, holistic approaches can help to reduce symptoms of OCD.

Holistic Treatment for OCD

Holistic treatment can also help to treat symptoms of OCD. It is important, however, to remember that this isn’t enough on its own. Most people need therapy or medications as well. Still, incorporating holistic approaches offers a wealth of benefits for people with OCD.

Red light therapy, for instance, can reduce the anxiety and depression that occurs with OCD. Exposure to red light can boost serotonin levels, which can enhance the effects of SRI medications. Additionally, holistic approaches like mindful meditation can help clients practice accepting thoughts without judgment. 

Want to learn more about Buckhead Behavioral Health?

How Do I Know I Need OCD Treatment?

When a person’s quality of life is negatively impacted by symptoms of OCD, they can benefit from our OCD treatment in Atlanta. OCD can be debilitating. It can lead to low self-esteem, depression, and even suicidal ideation.

The following are signs that a person needs treatment for OCD:

  • Self-doubt and constantly looking for reassurance
  • Lack of confidence and low self-esteem due to symptoms
  • Going to great lengths to avoid OCD triggers
  • Spending significant amounts of time engaging in compulsive behaviors
  • Feeling distressed over minute details regarding plans or arrangements
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Missing out on important life events due to obsessive fears
  • Excessive worry about being judged by others
  • Anxiety and depression occurring as a result of OCD symptoms
  • Abusing drugs and alcohol to self-medicate
  • Suicidal ideations or behaviors

When symptoms are overwhelming, a person with OCD could benefit from structured treatment programs. These programs provide clients with coping strategies and an understanding of their symptoms. In addition, clients meet others with similar symptoms—reducing the feelings of isolation that many with OCD experience.

Treatment Options for OCD

At our OCD treatment in Atlanta, we offer varying levels of outpatient care. That way, our clients can step down from higher levels of care to lower ones as they gain the skills they need to cope with OCD on their own. All our programs are outpatient, meaning that clients can live at home throughout their program.

At Buckhead Behavioral Health, we offer the following levels of care:

  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): During a PHP program, clients attend treatment for seven hours each day, six days a week. Clients learn more about OCD, how to manage symptoms, and participate in both individual and group sessions.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): After PHP, clients can step down to an IOP program. Like PHP, clients attend IOP for several days each week. However, clients attend for less time per session, allowing for more flexibility. This helps clients resume their everyday responsibilities while still getting significant amounts of programming.
  • Outpatient Program (OP): Clients can then step down to regular outpatient programs, such as weekly psychotherapy. Since OCD can only be treated and not cured, it’s important to recognize any recurrence of symptoms. Then, clients can seek outpatient rehab to prevent a full relapse of OCD.

Additionally, some clients need substance abuse treatment if they use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate for OCD. For this reason, we offer dual-diagnosis treatment for co-occurring substance abuse and OCD.

OCD and Dual-Diagnosis Disorders

According to JAMA Open Network, a Swedish study “found that individuals with an OCD diagnosis had a 3.7-fold elevated risk of any substance misuse outcome.” Due to this elevated risk, treatment centers need to screen for a potential co-occurring substance use disorder (SUD) among those with OCD. When a person has both a mental health disorder—like OCD—and SUD, they have a dual-diagnosis disorder.

Dual-diagnosis treatment programs treat both disorders at the same time. Treating both disorders together provides the best outcomes for recovery from either disorder. In addition, since SRI medications are commonly prescribed for OCD, clients will need to be sober for these medications to have an effect and to minimize the risks of harmful interactions.

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