How Effective Is Sertraline for OCD?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 June 2019
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    Conjecture Corporation
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In the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), sertraline can be very effective. There have been several studies on the use of sertraline for OCD, and in them patients who received the drug reported much more improvement in their symptoms than those who were given a placebo. This medication is also considered safe, and it has few side effects for most individuals. Those who also undergo additional treatments for their condition may experience even greater results.

Sertraline is a medication commonly prescribed for conditions like depression and generalized anxiety disorder. It has also been shown effective in the treatment of certain other anxiety disorders, including OCD. Although obsessive compulsive disorder is more complex than generalized anxiety, the use of sertraline for OCD has been proven to improve the feelings of anxiety and fear commonly associated with the condition. Some studies were performed on those who had no other recorded mood disorder.

Among antidepressants, sertraline is considered one of the safest. It belongs to a class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs impact the way the body produces and uses the brain chemical serotonin. This chemical is partially responsible for mood, and a deficiency could lead to feelings of depression or anxiety. In some severe cases, sertraline may need to be combined with other drugs. In the case of using sertraline for OCD, behavioral therapies are often most effective as a complementary treatment.


Although the use of sertraline for OCD is effective, cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be the most beneficial treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder. This is a therapy in which patients are slowly introduced to situations which may be uncomfortable for them. They are not put in any real danger, but they are made to face their fears without engaging in the rituals most OCD sufferers take part in. For instance, someone who is afraid of leaving the house without flipping a light switch ten times may be told to only flip it on and off five times. By slowly facing their fears and anxieties, patients are able to combat the disorder.

Many times the use of sertraline for OCD is most beneficial prior to behavioral therapy. The drug can help ease anxiety and fear to make the rigors of therapy less intense. Some individuals will remain on the drug their whole lives, although dosages can eventually be lowered in many cases. Others will wean off the drug entirely. It is important for patients to remember to take their medication on time and exactly as instructed. When stopping an SSRI medication, it is best to slowly wean the body off it by lowering the dose a little every few days.



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