Menu Close

Apex Recovery Blog

The Ins and Outs of OCD Treatments

a person holds a book titled "obsessive compulsive disorder"

OCD is sweeping across America. Roughly 2% of Americans have OCD, making it one of the most common anxiety disorders in the country. 

Yet many people with OCD manage to build successful careers and personal lives. The key is finding the right OCD treatments. You can try out a combination of different treatments, as long as you know what they are. 

What are the most popular OCD treatments? Can you take medication for OCD? How can a San Diego rehabilitation center help you? 

Answer these questions and you can take charge of your life, even with OCD. Here is your quick guide.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Ask a medical professional about OCD rehab, and they’ll talk to you about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of talk therapy that helps a person identify the thought patterns that affect their behavior and feelings. 

Once the person identifies their thought patterns, they work with a therapist to replace them. Someone can learn coping skills that help them deal with negative thoughts when they occur. They can also set goals for themselves to improve their behaviors. 

There are several types of CBT that may be appropriate for your treatment. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) combines CBT with mindfulness techniques. You can learn how to meditate and regulate your emotions when you are frustrated. 

Some people find it beneficial to take CBT in an intensive program. An intensive outpatient program involves attending sessions in a clinic multiple times a week. You go home after each session, and you can perform a job and personal responsibilities. 

A day program involves staying at rehab centers in San Diego during the day. You can go home at night. Residential and inpatient programs involve staying overnight, and they are helpful if you have additional problems besides OCD. 

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy can be combined with CBT. Some people also receive it independently of talk therapy. 

During exposure therapy, you are slowly exposed to an object you are afraid of. At first, you and your doctor may talk about the object. You may then view photographs of it, then you will see it in person. 

You will acclimate yourself to the object and learn how you can respond to distressing and obsessive thoughts. The goal is to remove the compulsive rituals you may use to respond to the situation. You may still be a little nervous about the object, but you will find a new way to cope with it. 

Most people with OCD use a variant of exposure therapy called exposure and response prevention (ERP). During ERP, you describe your compulsions and obsessions and list them in ascending order of how frightening they are.

You start with the first thing you are afraid of and complete a small task that exposes you to that fear. If you perform a ritual out of fear, your therapist may ask you to delay performing that ritual. You then perform the task again, delaying your ritual for a longer period of time. 

Imaginal exposure is another popular variant of exposure therapy. You will sit with a psychiatrist and visualize a scenario that scares you in your mind.

You envision this scenario multiple times, growing desensitized to it. Once you’re comfortable enough with the scenario, you can try out ERP.  


You can take many different medications for OCD. Doctors may ask that you try antidepressants, which can help you if you experience depression or anxiety. Popular antidepressants include clomipramine and Prozac. 

You may need to take high doses of these medications. You can take them with water and at any point during the day, as long as you keep to a schedule. 

Every medication has side effects, though they vary depending on what you are taking. If you experience side effects that impact your job or personal life, you should switch medications. Most OCD medications are non-addictive, but you should talk to your doctor if you’re worried about taking them.

Habit Reversal Training

Habit reversal training targets nervous tics, rituals, and bad habits. You may participate in several therapies at once. 

If you’re not aware of your own habits, you can try awareness training. You stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself respond to stressors. You write down when the habit occurs, then you talk to your doctor about it. 

Once you’ve figured out your tics, you and your doctor come up with a competing response. If you like to lay out objects symmetrically, you can practice holding your opposite arm against your body. This gives you an alternate way to respond to the stress and prevents you from doing your ritual. 

As you develop competing responses, you can try family therapy. You and your family can talk to a therapist about your habits and take steps to cope with them. If your family members want to speak in private with a therapist, they can do so.

Habit reversal training can take months. In the meantime, you can try CBT and other forms of talk therapy. 

The Most Popular OCD Treatments

You have many choices for OCD treatments. CBT can help you overcome your anxious thought patterns and challenge your habits. If you have phobias about various things, you can try exposure therapy and ERP. 

Medications can change the chemicals in your brain so you become less anxious. If you would prefer to focus on talk and behavioral therapy, you can participate in habit reversal training. 

You can try all of these OCD treatments in San Diego rehab centers. Apex Recovery serves OCD patients in the San Diego area. Contact us today.

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689