When an individual is diagnosed with having “OCD” or “obsessive-compulsive disorder”, in order to treat their condition they are typically prescribed antidepressant medications that can reduce their symptoms of anxiety associated with OCD. The most common type of medication given for the treatment of OCD is “SSRIs” or “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors”.
SSRIs increase the level of the neurotransmitter or brain chemical serotonin within the brain that is thought to play a large role in affecting our moods. There are many different types of SSRI's that have different pharmacological characteristics which means that some patients may experience uncomfortable side effects with one but not another, therefore, it may take several attempts to find the one that is suitable for them.
Common SSRIs used for the treatment of OCD
“Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” or “SSRIs” are the most preferred of the available antidepressant medications due to the fact that they cause fewer side effects than other antidepressants. They are also known to cause less withdrawal effects when a patient ceases taking them and are not as dangerous in the event that a patient experiences an overdose.
The most common types of SSRI's include paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac) and escitalopram (Lexapro). While these medications are considered to be the safest of all the antidepressants, there is the danger of the patient developing an excess level of serotonin within their system causing the condition known as serotonin syndrome which is considered a medical emergency as it can be a life threatening condition.
Serotonin syndrome typically occurs due to a patient taking an intentional overdose of this medication; however, it can occur when these medications are taken in combination with other drugs including certain over-the-counter drugs as well as herbal supplements such as St. John's. John's wort.
Therefore, it is essential that if you are taking any antidepressant medications that you consult with your physician prior to taking any other drugs, supplements, or alternative remedies as they may interact with your medication and cause dangerous side effects.
Common TCAs and Benzodiazepines used for the treatment of OCD
“TCAs” or “tricyclic antidepressants” are also effective for the treatment of OCD, however, they are typically not prescribed unless SSRIs have not been effective or the patient is unable to take them due to the stronger side effects that TCAs can cause. Common TCA's include “clomipramine” (“Anafranil”), “imipramine” (“Tofranil”), and “amitriptyline” (“Elavil”).
A few of the common side effects that are associated with TCAs include dizziness, headache, confusion or disorientation, dry mouth, constipation, nausea, weight gain, low blood pressure, weakness, sexual dysfunction, and blurred vision. TCAs are also associated with a higher risk factor for developing heart problems or having a heart attack.
Individuals who have diabetes are also at risk for an increase in their blood sugar levels when taking TCAs. If a patient suddenly stops taking a TCA, they can have withdrawal symptoms that include flu-like symptoms, nausea, headache, fatigue, and dizziness.
“Benzodiazepines” are also another type of antidepressant that may be prescribed for OCD, however, when used over a long period of time the patient can develop an addiction and is more likely to abuse this medication. There are also numerous side effects associated with benzodiazepines including persistent drowsiness during the day, and feelings of “fogginess”.
They are also dangerous when an individual taking this medication consumes a large volume of alcohol and can other serious side effects. While all of these medications have been proven effective for the treatment of OCD , it is essential that along with taking these medications exactly as prescribed, you inform your physician of any side effects that are concern you and that you also inform them prior to taking any other medications or dietary supplements as they may interact with these medications.