OCD may improve with a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy. SSRIs, such as citalopram (Celexa), fluvoxamine (Luvox), Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft, are now commonly used to treat this illness. The FDA has approved Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft for the treatment of OCD (the first three are also approved for panic disorder).

Improvements, which may take six to eight weeks of drug therapy, are more likely for compulsions than for obsessions. Higher doses of these medications (compared with those typically used to treat depression) may be necessary to treat OCD. In 2009, the FDA approved a deep brain stimulator device for severe cases of OCD for which medications and psychotherapy have not worked.

Originally published in The Johns Hopkins White Papers: Depression (2011)

Written By:

Karen L. Swartz, M.D.

Director of Clinical and Educational Programs, Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Publication Review By: Karen L. Swartz, M.D.

Published: 07 Mar 2011

Last Modified: 03 Feb 2015