Antidepressants to Treat OCD

Antidepressants (e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs], tricyclic antidepressants [TCAs]) may be used to treat OCD. These medications (e.g., Prozac, Zoloft, Anafranil) influence serotonin levels.

High doses of SSRIs may be required to treat OCD and it can take 10 to 12 weeks to experience beneficial effects of these medications. This can be frustrating, but with time, SSRIs significantly help people with their obsessive-compulsive behavior.

About 70 percent of people with OCD respond notably to antidepressant medication, and about 40 percent experience a partial reduction of symptoms. However, only about 10 to 15 percent have a full remission of symptoms, so the disease is chronic for most people even with treatment. Most take medication indefinitely, and about 85 percent of people relapse within 1 or 2 months after discontinuing it.

For more information about common side effects associated with these medications, see treatment of major depressive disorder.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 01 Feb 2001

Last Modified: 12 May 2014