OCD Q & A
What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?
OCD is a chronic condition characterized by uncontrollable, persistent thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that you feel the need to repeat over and over. Common symptoms of OCD include:
- Fear of germs and frequent hand washing
- Unwanted thoughts regarding sex, religion, or violence
- Aggressive thoughts toward yourself or others
- Desire to have things symmetrical or in a specific order
- Repeatedly checking on things, like the lock on a door or stove burners
- Compulsive counting
OCD is diagnosed when these thoughts or behaviors become intrusive and disrupt your everyday life. Often, people with OCD recognize that their thoughts or behaviors are excessive, but they can’t stop them.
Some people with OCD also have motor or verbal tics. Motor tics involve movements, like eye blinking or shoulder shrugging, while verbal tics involve grunting, sniffing, or throat-clearing.
How is OCD treated?
OCD is typically treated with a combination of therapy and medications. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the primary medication prescribed for OCD, though antipsychotics and others can be used depending on how you respond to treatment.
For OCD that is resistant to traditional treatments, the team at Boston MindCare, PC, offers ketamine therapy to reduce OCD symptoms. Ketamine therapy can be used alongside traditional medications and psychotherapy for best results.
How does ketamine help with OCD?
Research shows that ketamine affects the NMDA receptors that are responsible for glutamate activity in your brain. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that signals cells in your brain to perform specific activities.
In relation to OCD, glutamate affects areas of the prefrontal cortex in your brain where your learning and thinking centers are located. These centers control your thoughts and related behaviors.
By reducing glutamate activity in this area, ketamine can induce what is called “extinction learning.” Extinction therapy aims to stop certain behaviors or thoughts from occurring, basically making them go “extinct.”
Using specific doses of ketamine, your doctor works with you to reduce your OCD symptoms and improve your quality of life. Based on your feedback after each treatment session, your doctor modifies your dosage as needed to reach the desired effects with as few side effects as possible.
To determine if ketamine can help to reduce your OCD symptoms, call Boston MindCare, PC, or schedule a consultation online today