OCD – Medications

OCD is termed as Obsessive-Compulsive disorder. It is a mental illness that revolves around obsessions and compulsions. The desire to rid oneself of the obsessions may lead to compulsive behaviour while for others it may remain at the obsession level (not that this is necessarily less distressing). People with OCD may similarly suffer from depression.

For some definitions see the entry from Mayo Clinic (US) – dated 17 Sep 2016; or Institute of Mental Health (Singapore) – not dated.

Apart from therapy, medications often form the other arm of treatment.

One type of medication described by psychologist Patrick B. McGrath (below) is the SSRI (Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors). It basically allows more serotonin to remain in the brain ecosystem. Consequently, more neurons may come into contact with serotonin. Resultantly, OCD symptoms could decline. The 2007 book (below) suggests that SSRIs ‘appear to be the safest’ among the various types of medications.¬†Negative effects take the guise of headaches, nausea, insomnia, agitation and sex-related issues. Brand/Trade names of SSRIs include Prozac, Luvox, Wellbutrin, Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft and Lexapro.

Benzodiazepines like (brands) Xanax, Ativan, Valium and Klonopin pump up the effects of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) an inhibitory neurotransmitter. (See Anxiety Neurotransmitters. The Brain from the Top. It appears the source hails from McGill University, Canada.) This brings tranquility to the patient. Unfortunately, there is potential for addiction and abuse.

One other group are the Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). As of 8 June 2016, a the Mayo Clinc article, describes that the drug class has ‘…generally been replaced by antidepressants that are safer and cause fewer side effects.’ So it does seem that this type of medication as a ‘last resort’ (opined by McGrath) still holds true. A sample of brands:

  • Isocarboxazid (Marplan)
  • Phenelzine (Nardil)
  • Selegiline (Emsam)
  • Tranylcypromine (Parnate)

[Please note that this exposition on OCD medications is non-exhaustive and is not a substitute for advice from a medical/qualified professional.]

Book reference:

Patrick B. McGrath. (2007). The OCD Answerbook. Naperville. Sourcebooks.


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