Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
(Column: Ask the Pharmacist)
Steve Kaufman, RPH
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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized in the presence of recurrent, unwanted ideas, images or impulse that may be silly, weird, nasty or in the worst case horrible, and an urge to do something that will relieve the discomfort.

The most common obsessions are harm, risk or danger. Rituals are used by people with OCD to control the obsession such as washing and cleaning to rid contamination, or double and triple checking a stove to make sure it is off. People can become obsessed with anything and the rituals they perform aren't always logically connected to the discomfort.

Most people with OCD are aware of their obsession. And also know that their behavior is excessive and most people consider it strange. OCD thus differs from other psychotic disorders in which patients lose contact with reality.

Treatment for OCD is accomplished with medication and psychotherapy. Medication used to treat OCD are the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Prozac, Paxil, Luvox, or Zoloft and/or the tricyclic anti depressants such as Anafranil, Amitriptyline and Nortriptyline.

Tricyclic anti-depressants work by adjusting or re-balancing how the brain and nervous system produce and respond to their own natural chemicals (neurotransmitters). This effect may take a few weeks before the effect is noticed. The medications must be used exactly as prescribed.

If a dose is missed take it as soon as possible. If it is time for the next dose do not double the dose unless advised to do so by your physician. The most common side effects may include drowsiness, blurred vision or constipation. Using these drugs with alcohol, sleeping pills, pain relievers, using morphine or codeine & barbiturates may cause an increase in central nervous system side effects.
If you have any questions regarding the use of these or any other medications consult your doctor or pharmacist.
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