The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Your doctor may give you medicine to help alleviate your unwanted thoughts and repeated actions. These are often referred to as anti-obsessional medications. They can also help you feel less anxious and afraid. It may take a few weeks before you start to see an improvement
Most of the drugs used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are antidepressants. These medications affect brain hormones that are out of balance. If you develop
in association with OCD or because of the disability produced by OCD, antidepressants can help with this as well.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) CitalopramFluvoxamineParoxetineFluoxetineSertralineEscitalopram
Tricyclic Antidepressants Clomipramine
Atypical Antidepressants TrazodoneVenlafaxineNefazodone
Common names include: CitalopramFluvoxamineParoxetineFluoxetineSertralineEscitalopram
SSRIs affect the concentration of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a role in
, and OCD. It appears that for most people, high doses of these drugs are required to produce anti-obsessional effects. Improvement is usually seen in 4-6 weeks after beginning treatment. SSRIs are not addictive.
Do not take an SSRI if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) in the last 2-5 weeks.
Possible side effects include: NauseaDiarrheaInsomniaLoss of appetite or weight lossWeight gainLightheadedness
Sexual dysfunction (ranging from decreased arousal, to
, and/or delayed time to orgasm)
NervousnessRisk of severe mood and behavior changes, including suicidal thoughts in some patients (young adults may be at a higher risk for this side effect.)
Tricyclic antidepressants regulate the neurotransmitters serotonin and/or noradrenalin in the brain. They have been used effectively for the treatment of OCD. Improvement is usually seen in 2-6 weeks after beginning treatment. Tricyclic antidepressants are not addictive.
Possible side effects include: LightheadednessSleepinessDry mouthConstipationDifficulty urinatingWeight gainLow blood pressureSexual dysfunctionRisk of severe mood and behavior changes, including suicidal thoughts in some patients (young adults may be at a higher risk for this side effect.)
Common names include: TrazodoneVenlafaxineNefazodone
Atypical antidepressants affect the concentration of the neurotransmitter serotonin and can be effective in treating OCD. Improvement is usually seen in 4-6 weeks after beginning treatment.
Possible side effects include: NauseaNervousnessDiminished sex driveRisk of severe mood and behavior changes, including suicidal thoughts in some patients (young adults may be at a higher risk for this side effect.)
Consultation with a specially trained mental health professional is recommended if you do not respond to treatment with medications. A mental health professional can help clarify the diagnosis and determine if another psychiatric disorder is present. They can also make recommendations about psychotherapy and changes in medications.
If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines: Take the medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule. Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medication.Plan ahead for refills if you need them.Do not share your prescription medication with anyone.Medications can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor if you are taking more than one medication, including over-the-counter products and supplements.
International OCD Foundation
website. Available at:
Accessed January 13, 2017.
Antidepressant use in children, adolescents, and adults. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at:
Updated April 13, 2016. Accessed January 13, 2017.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). National Institute of Mental Health
website. Available at:
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml. Updated January 2016. Accessed January 13, 2017.
Last reviewed December 2016 by Adrian Preda, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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