Obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD treatment and therapy from NOCD

Is there a cure for OCD?

3 min read
Patrick McGrath, PhD

Plenty of people claim to know the cure for obsessive-compulsive disorder. With a quick search you’ll find stories about yoga, diets, and supplements or medications that all supposedly get rid of your symptoms for good.

While these things can certainly be part of a plan to improve your mental health, there’s no cure for OCD yet. There are plenty of researchers working hard to find one, but the media tends to make much bolder claims than any scientist would. News about scientific research tends to overstate the researchers’ conclusions. 

What does OCD research do for people right now?

Although new research is always sharpening our understanding of the brain, nobody knows exactly what causes OCD. And there’s no way to create a precise cure when we don’t know a precise cause. It’s exciting to watch a bunch of hypotheses emerge, but it’s also helpful to remember where we are now.

This doesn’t mean people can’t get better, though. Most researchers and clinicians aren’t waiting to find that precise cure. They try a bunch of options, because they know people with OCD shouldn’t have to wait. And if something works for a lot of people, researchers can work backwards by trying to understand what’s happening in their brains. That’s how momentum starts to build around investigational OCD treatments like ketamine

How can someone get better if there’s no cure for OCD?

Most of us understand a cure as something that completely and permanently gets rid of symptoms. A cure for cancer, for example, “eliminates all traces of cancer from the body and ensures it won’t come back.” And we think of mental health conditions in the same way: we’re cured when we find a way to erase the problem completely.

But other people consider themselves cured when their symptoms are so minimal that they don’t impact day-to-day living for a sustained period. They feel a lot better, probably for a few months or more. 

Microscope to do research

Alright, then how can people find relief from OCD symptoms?

We’re always reminding people that exposure and response prevention (ERP) and SRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) have the best data behind them for treatment success. In a 2013 study conducted by Dr. Blair Simpson and colleagues, 70% of patients using a combination of ERP and SRIs responded and one third “got well.”

So, can OCD be cured? Not yet. But many people do recover to the point where their symptoms are well-managed and far less bothersome. A few NOCD team members can attest to this. Nothing works for everybody, but there are plenty of great options to keep trying.

Still have questions about OCD?

This post was edited by NOCD Clinical Director Stephanie Lonsway, PhD, to ensure clinical accuracy. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, schedule a free call today with the NOCD clinical team to learn more about how a licensed therapist can help. ERP is most effective when the therapist conducting the treatment has experience with OCD and training in ERP. At NOCD, all therapists specialize in OCD and receive ERP-specific training.

Patrick McGrath, PhD

Dr. McGrath is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the Chief Clinical Officer at NOCD. He is a member of the Scientific and Clinical Advisory Boards of the International OCD Foundation, a Fellow of the Association for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies, and the author of "The OCD Answer Book" and "Don't Try Harder, Try Different."

OCD Treatment

NOCD Therapists specialize in treating OCD

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Taylor Newendorp

Taylor Newendorp

Network Clinical Training Director

I started as a therapist over 14 years ago, working in different mental health environments. Many people with OCD that weren't being treated for it crossed my path and weren't getting better. I decided that I wanted to help people with OCD, so I became an OCD therapist, and eventually, a clinical supervisor. I treated people using Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and saw people get better day in and day out. I continue to use ERP because nothing is more effective in treating OCD.

Madina Alam

Madina Alam

Director of Therapist Engagement

When I started treating OCD, I quickly realized how much this type of work means to me because I had to learn how to be okay with discomfort and uncertainty myself. I’ve been practicing as a licensed therapist since 2016. My graduate work is in mental health counseling, and I use Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy because it’s the gold standard of OCD treatment.

Andrew Moeller

Andrew Moeller

Licensed Therapy, LMHC

I've been a licensed counselor since 2013, having run my private practice with a steady influx of OCD cases for several years. Out of all the approaches to OCD treatment that I've used, I find Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy to be the most effective. ERP goes beyond other methods and tackles the problem head-on. By using ERP in our sessions, you can look forward to better days ahead.

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