preventing an OCD relapse

How to Prevent an OCD Relapse

To a certain degree, worrying is healthy; it helps us keep track of important dates, motivates us to work hard to maintain security, and allows us to keep ourselves safe. The important thing is to know when to stop worrying, and not let our stress get the better of us. Therefore, we must find a positive outlet for stress, and let go of negative thoughts. For those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), worries are not easily placated; they are so persistent that they become obsessive, and can only be calmed using specific rituals (compulsions), that are often not beneficial in the long run.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is often incapacitating, and can cause mental, emotional, and social troubles. Despite how difficult living with OCD can be, many people who receive treatment make major improvements. For some, the greatest difficulty is not always getting well, it is staying well. When the proper measures are not taken, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder may revert back to the level of symptom severity experienced before initial treatment began. If you have received treatment for your OCD that significantly reduced your symptoms, and are looking for a way to maintain those strides, there are tools available to help lessen the likelihood of relapse.

OCD Symptoms

Approximately 1% of the U.S. adult population suffers with OCD, says The National Institute of Mental Health. The condition is comprised of two separate sets of symptoms, listed below.


  •      Fear of injuring oneself or loved ones
  •      Fear of germs
  •      Intrusive sexual and violent thoughts
  •      Religious fixation
  •      Need for precise order
  •      Excessive superstitiousness


  •      Double-checking
  •      Obsessive checking up on loved ones
  •      Praying excessively
  •      Counting, tapping, or repeating words
  •      Washing and cleaning in excessive
  •      Arranging items very specifically
  •      Keeping useless items

Preventative Measures for OCDpreventing an OCD relapse

In order to determine what methods are most useful as OCD relapse prevention measures, the definition of relapse must be established. The simplest way to understand the meaning of the term is to think about it as the return to the same level of symptom severity before treatment began. In other words, those who receive medical treatment may reach a state of remission, marked by a complete absence of symptoms, or partial remission, characterized by a lessening of symptoms. Relapse occurs when a person in either state of remission, post-treatment, returns to a similar symptomatic state as they were before they received any treatment whatsoever.

The first line OCD treatment for lessening the chance of relapse is referred to as cognitive behavioral therapy, commonly abbreviated to CBT. This psychotherapy focuses on helping people with OCD change the way they think about the symptoms they have, and the world around them. By actively analyzing the types of thoughts experienced, and the reasons for the feelings they provoke, people can learn to alter thought processes in a positive way. OCD prevention is not possible (meaning that the initial onset of the disease cannot be stopped), but CBT allows people to maintain remission by teaching them to have greater control over the way they think about things.

Exposure response prevention (ERP) is another method used to help prevent an OCD relapse. It is typically included as a component of CBT, and aims to help those with obsessive-compulsive disorder control the behaviors associated with the condition. This means that people will be made to address the avoidance issues and compulsive rituals that the patient uses to ease the anxiety he or she feels; the decision to confront these issues must be made by the affected individual, and cannot be forced. ERP as an OCD treatment can be performed in two distinct ways: in vivo (real life) or imaginary. The first one requires that the person be exposed to the stimuli associated with their obsession, but is expected to withhold from performing the compulsion that would typically go along with it. In the second circumstance, the therapist will ask the affected person to imagine the obsession, again with the requirement that they do not perform the adjunct compulsion. The goal of ERP is for the patient to eventually become used to the obsession so much so that it causes little to no anxious reaction, and also to realize that no harm will come to them if they abstain from performing compulsive behaviors.

The methods described above will not work for everybody to help stop OCD relapse, and may not be the most optimal treatments possible. In order to determine the most beneficial OCD treatment to prevent a relapse, researchers conduct Los Angeles clinical trials on volunteer participants. This is done to test the efficacy, pros, and cons of experimental drugs, devices, and therapies. Once these things are established, the treatment can be approved for distribution to the public. In some circumstances, research is conducted in hopes of finding a viable solution for complete OCD prevention, as well.

Participants also benefit from taking part in these trials, as they may be among the first people to receive the newest, most useful OCD prevention treatment. In addition, plenty of information about the disease will be available from knowledgeable professionals, which means that subjects will be well informed about symptoms, management techniques, etc. Lastly, clinical trials are often paid, in order to compensate volunteers for contributing time and effort.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be taxing on the mental, emotional and social health of those who have it. Treatment for the symptoms is available, and many people respond well to it. In order to maintain any progress made during treatment, it is important that measures be taken to lessen the likelihood of relapse. Cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure response prevention, and deep transcranial magnetic stimulation are all viable ways to limit the chance of regression.

If you are interested in enrolling in Los Angeles clinical studies for OCD, contact the Pacific Institute of Medical Research, which is an independent clinical research site specializing in psychiatry since 1982. Visit us online or call us at (310) 208-7144.

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