OCD Treatment Intro OCD Diagnosis Finding Help OCD Therapy OCD Medication OCD Self Help

   Considering taking medication.
   Names & Dosages of Medication.
   Changing Dosages.
   Medication& Pregnancy.
   Possible Sexual Side- Effects.
   Possible Weight- Gain Due to Medications.
   Feeling Dependant.
   Indigent- Patient Program.
   Useful Links.

OCD Medication.

Medication can strengthen you once you find the right 1 for you and get to the right dosage. This extra help will enable a person to more easily start and/or progress in therapy. Therapy is not just about sitting down and talking, going to weekly or bi- monthly sessions might be very tiring and strenuous. Especially Behavioral Therapies are very hard, but they also do help.
This is why medications can help you, ideally combined with a surrounding that offers you support.

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When You Consider Taking Medication.

In order for your doctor to be able to adapt your medication as good as possible to your needs, it is helpful to inform her/him about the following.:

  • Which other medications you are taking ( Never combine medications without asking about their interaction.).
  • Your past Medical History.
  • Possible changes in your life, such as planning to have a baby.
  • After some experience with the medication, tell about the possible side- effects you might be experiencing.
  • In all, be as clear as possible as to how the medications are affecting you.....

Some questions the "U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and professional organizations" suggest you/a family member to ask the doctor.:

  • What is the name of the medication, and what is it supposed to do?
  • How and when do I take it, and when do I stop taking it?
  • What foods, drinks, other medications, or activities should I avoid while taking the prescribed medication?
  • What are the side effects, and what should I do if they occur?
  • Is there any written information available about the medication?

Any change concerning your medication should always be discussed with your doctor.

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Basic Information About Medication.

Basic Information About Medication.
BRAND name GENERIC name OTHER names MANUFACTURER'S site Recommended DOSAGE *
Anafranil. Clomipramine. None. Manufacturer's Site. Up to 250 mg/day.
Celexa. Citalopram. None. Manufacturer's Site. Up to 60 mg/day.
Luvox. Fluvoxamine. None. Manufacturer's Site. Up to 300 mg/day.
Paxil. Paroxetine. None. Manufacturer's Site. 40-60 mg/day.
Prozac. Fluoxetine. None. Manufacturer's Site. 40-80 mg/day.
Zoloft. Sertraline. Serlain. Manufacturer's Site. Up to 200 mg/day.

*Most people need a high dosage to obtain some anti- obsessional effects. The dosages are what may be needed, but they are a guideline, not a rule. Some patients that didn't respond to the highest dosages have surprisingly benefited from taking extremely low doses, like 5-10 mg/day of Prozac or 25 mg/day of Anafranil.

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When You Consider Changing Dosages.

Besides reasons for taking your medication, we all have our reasons for wanting to stop taking them or to just not start on them. But any changes considering the medications you do take, should be discussed with your psych. Don't assume you know best because you are the 1 who has OCD. Because although this is likely making you an expert in certain aspects of OCD, namely the part of having it, a doctor is also more likely to be more of an expert as to knowing what and how much you should take.
You wouldn't tell a mechanic how to fix your car either, why else would you have brought it in, just to keep economy going?

What you can do is have them tune the medications so they work best for you, so voice your opinions, your doubts/discomfort and concerns.
If you have questions, ask them.
Once you find a doctor you believe is capable, try and trust her/him. As a patient you have the right to let them know what you feel or think about certain decisions but at a certain point you will have to hand control over to them.
So, that is 1 reason to not mess with taking medication, the fact that we are not trained medical doctors.
But there is another reason, it has been found that when people stop taking their medications, coming back on them may not always show the same efficiency. Which is a real shame if they helped you in the 1 st. place. Having said this, the percentage of people to which this happens is not very high and only since recent years have people started to encounter this more regularly, but this is still something to be taken in consideration.

There are several understandable reasons for reducing the dosage or stopping your medication, actually every reason is understandable, just that they are not all as reasonable.
Just don't self medicate!

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So How Efficient Are These Medications?

An important question on the mind of any patient who is considering to take medication is how efficient they really are.
Before the effort is made to start on them, people want to know how much they will actually help.
Well here are some figures for you:

  • Most see clear to moderate improvement after being on the medications for about 8 to 10 weeks being on an SRI.
  • Less than 20% of those that take medications, without some kind of therapy to back them up, will no longer have OCD- symptoms.
  • Combining both CBT and Medication seems to have better and more lasting results than being on Medication alone.
  • Many will however not find the right Medication right away and about 20% will after finding no or little improvement with their 1 st. SRI have to try another 1.
  • But a very important factor to bare in mind is that these medications don't start working right away.
    Most people will only see some benefit after a period of 3 to 4 weeks and full benefit or efficiency is only after a good 10 to 12 weeks, this at the suggested dosage.
  • If however no real progress is being made, many experts recommend to try a different SRI. You can see that what works for 1 doesn't necessarily work for the other, so this is really a process of trial and error. This can be demotivating but if you are willing to be on medications, it can really be worth all the hassle.
  • Not only which SRI to take is of importance, equally important is the dosage and the regularity at which they are taken.

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Medication& Pregnancy.

Another understandable reason would be when you are thinking of having a baby and your medication is not proved to be safe. Like in any other situation where you have doubt concerning your medications, you should discuss this with your psych and/or the person prescribing your medications and decide what would be the best way to deal with this.
Include your partner and make sure the both of you are well- informed about the possible hazards to make the decision an educated 1.

You will be making the final decision after having looked at all the options and having informed yourself honestly.
Because yes, there are alternatives. such as:

  • Lowering the dosage might be helpful.
  • There are some SSRI's that have been tested during pregnancy.
  • The biggest risk is during the 1 st. 3 months of the pregnancy, when the fetus' brain is developing and is most susceptible. So to stop taking your medication during these crucial months may be another option.
  • Also it has been shown that taking up Behavioral Therapy, if you aren't already, might be that extra help you need when you do decide to come off the medication.

Remind yourself that not only do you deserve the best, your baby deserves a strong and healthy mom too. The opinions of the future moms out there are very divided. So the best thing to do is for you to be looking at all the options to help to make your pregnancy and the experience of having a child more positive. Just don't forget to talk to someone who knows more than you do, your doctor or psychiatrist.

In short, the possible dangers of taking medication for your baby have to be out- weighed to possibly severe problems of not treating a mental condition that can prove to be really devastating.

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Possible Sexual Side- Effects.

Another reason that makes people wonder about whether or not they should take or stop taking their medications is because of some of the side- effects.
I will only discuss the sexual 1's, if only because these are still surrounded be much taboo.

30 to 40% of people that are taking SSRI's experience some sort of sexual problem ( Such as Anorgasmia, erectile problems.), while a fewer others have found that their libido had actually increased.

Some doctors suggest their patients to take what are called "Drug Holidays". This new approach to managing sexual difficulties involves for the patient to literally take a break so they can enjoy a romantic weekend where sexual interaction/pleasure is possible. This "technique" will however only work for the medications that have a short half- life, such as sertraline, paroxetine, clomipramine, and fluvoxamine, and not for the medications with a very long half- life such as fluoxetine.

To Read the complete Article: Managing Sexual Side- Effects, written by Michael Jenike, MD Click Here.

In case you are experiencing such difficulties, turn to your doctor with questions. There is absolutely no reason for being ashamed to discuss this freely.
In a perfect world the doctor would have informed you before you even had to wonder about this.

Wanting to enjoy sex is not a shame, not daring to ask about it is, so ask about ways to improve this part of your life.

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Possible Weight- Gain Due to Medications.

This is an article written by Michael A. Jenike, MD Professor of Psychiatry and Julie A. Jenike.
"Probably the most effective treatment for OCD is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). However, many of you will require medication at least during the initial stages of treatment. Weight gain is one of the most difficult to manage side effects of anti-obsessional medication, but there is much you can do. This article summarizes our knowledge about drug-induced weight gain and more importantly things that you and your doctor can do to prevent or minimize it. Many doctors are not sensitive to this issue, so you should go to the doctor armed with information."
Read the full Article Medication Induced Weight Gain: What Can You Do?

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What If You Don't Want To Be Dependant Upon Your Medications?

Quite a few people are concerned with becoming dependant upon their medication. While SSRI's aren't an addictive type of drugs, it is the idea of "having" to take them that will frustrate some.
If you are 1 of those, ask yourself this: Is dependency on your medication worse than the dependency towards your OCD?

A doctor of mine once told me that every person that has to take medications on a daily basis will at 1 point be tempted to stop and say:"I can do this on my own.". What you shouldn't forget is that this feeling of: "I can do this alone.", is partly there because of the medication you are/were taking.
This strength and feeling of control might be present because of you taking medication.
Just look back at the time you weren't taking any, if this time was 1 were all you wanted was to find something to help you, I would advice you to not stop taking them.
No 1 can tell you what or what not to do, but I can still suggest to always think twice before stopping to take your medications at once and to at least talk this through thoroughly with your doctor or psych, they may suggest a compromise like decreasing the dosage.

Last thing I would like to say is that taking medications is NOT a sign of weakness.
There is no shame in asking for help. You would never judge a person to be weak for having to take medications for a heart condition would you? Well, bare this in mind next time you feel inferior for having to take yours. You may not be strong enough to fight this by yourself, but you are strong enough to not let this stand in the way of getting better.
If you are scared to take medications for any other reason, talk about this with you doctor, freely. They are there to help you .

Being able to ask and accept help, under whichever form, is more a sign of strength and modesty than 1 of weakness.

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What If You Don't Have the Money To Afford Your Medications?

Not only do pharmaceutical- companies hand out free samples via their representatives to physicians, which may be in turn handed out to the patients, the company's ( Involved in the production of the 5 primary anti- obsessional medication.) also offer free medication to those that truly can't afford to buy any. A directory of indigent- programs is published by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association.
Physicians can get a copy by calling the following #:(202) 835-3450.

Call for additional information for Indigent- Patients Program.
Anafranil. Ciba-Geigy Patient Support Program: (800) 257-3273 (908) 277-5849.
Celexa. Forest Pharmaceutical Company Indigent Patient Program: (800) 678-1605 (physician requests).
Effexor. Wyeth-Ayerst Labs: (800) 568-9936 (physician requests).
Luvox. Solvay Patient Assistance Program: (800) 788-9277.
Paxil. Smith Kline Paxil Access To Care Program: (800) 546-0420 (patient requests): (215) 751-5722 (physician requests).
Prozac. Lilly Cares Program: (800 ) 545-6962.
Zoloft. Pfizer Prescription Assistance: (800 ) 646-4455.

For more detailed information on medications, either check with your Doctor, the manufacturer of the medications you are taking or contact:
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857.

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Useful links concerning OCD Medication:

Here is some extra information on how OCD medications work.

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