OCD Medication

When it comes to OCD medication, there are quite a few that are used to help with the symptoms of this particular anxiety disorder.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder presents some very difficult symptoms to manage. If a sufferer is finding that their behaviors (compulsions) are controlling their lives or taking up enormous amounts of time, this would be a good time to consider seeking out the advice of a qualified professional about possibly taking an OCD medication.

Below are some of the most commonly prescribed OCD medications:

Tricyclic Antidepressants

  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)

SSRI's - Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors

  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)


  • Alprazolam (Xanax)

MAOI's - Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors

  • Phenelzine (Nardil)
  • Tranylcypromine (Parnate)

SNRI's - Seratonin NorEpinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors

  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)
  • Venlafaxine XR (Effexor XR)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

Mild Tranquilizer

  • Buspirone (Buspar)

About 20% of all people with OCD may also experience tics (sudden physical movements such as blinking, nodding,etc.) or Tourette's Syndrome. This group may benefit from atypical antipsychotics such as risperidone, clozapine, quetiapine and blood pressure drugs such as clonodine and guanfacine.

OCD Medication Facts

SSRI's are the most commonly prescribed medications for OCD. The main reason is that they offer fewer side effects than Trycyclic Antidepressants.

Medication does not mean a cure. As with all OCD medications, they do not cure the problem but they do help to greatly diminish the intensity of the OCD symptoms. By helping to diminish the physical symptoms, it allows the patient to focus more attention on self-help methods and/or professional therapy.

OCD medications take time to work. It takes at least 6-12 weeks on the "right" dosage of the "right" medication to see moderate improvement. It is not uncommon for people to find no relief from their first prescribed medication. Sometimes, it may take a few tries with different drugs to find the medication that works best for you.

Medication works best when it's combined with therapy. Whether using self-help methods or professional therapy, it is very important to "do the work" necessary to get better.

Consider seeing a Psychiatrist. Although you can get a prescription for OCD medication from your family doctor, they are not professionally trained in psychotropic medications as Psychiatrists are. If your symptoms are severe and include tics, Tourette's Syndrome or other psychological challenges, it is recommended that you work with a Psychiatrist. They are the professionals when it comes to these types of medications and work with you personally to find what OCD medications will work best for you.

You should never stop taking medication without discussing it first with your doctor. Many of the OCD medications that are used today can cause uncomfortable and dangerous side effects should you stop them abruptly. OCD medication should be tapered slowly when coming off of them to avoid withdrawal symptoms. It may also help to know that they sell pill cutters at your local pharmacy to help people divide medications more easily when tapering. Just remember, it is always best to discuss these options with your doctor first.

All OCD medications do present some unwanted side effects. For some, they experience feelings of depersonalization, weight gain, weight loss or even sexual dysfunction. They say that 30-40% of those taking SSRI's will experience sexual problems. If you find these side effects particularily bothersome, discuss other options with your doctor.

Free OCD Medication

For those that have a difficult time paying for medication, there are indigent programs where anxiety medication may be provided to you free of charge. For more information please use the contact information below:

  • Anafranil - Ciba-Geigy Patient Support 1-800-257-3273
  • Celexa - Forest Pharmaceuticals Indigent Patient Program 1-800-678-1605
  • Effexor - Wyeth-Ayerst Labs 1-800-568-9936
  • Luvox - Solvay Patient Assistance 1-800-788-9277
  • Paxil - Smith Kline Care Program 1-800-546-0420
  • Prozac - Lily Cares Program 1-800-545-6962
  • Zoloft - Pfizer Prescription Assistance 1-800-646-4455

Also, you can have your physician request a full list of Indigent Patient Programs by calling the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association at 1-202-835-3450 to see what other possible medications would be available to you under this free medication program.

Recommended Reading

Medicines for Mental Health: The Ultimate Guide to Psychiatric Medication by Kevin Thompson, PhD.

Stopping Anxiety Medication Workbook (Treatments That Work)  by Michael W. Otto This revised edition of the Workbook teaches the skills necessary to help individuals wean off their medicine through the use of cognitive restructuring techniques, along with exposure to panic and anxiety sensations.

Helplful Resources

International OCD Foundation for Kids
Anti-Anxiety Medications

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