OCD Attacks What You Need To Know

Obsessive-compulsive disorder¹ (OCD) is among the most isolating, confusing, and debilitating conditions in the mental health field. It remains among the top 10 causes of disability as ranked by the World Health Organization.

Persons diagnosed with OCD frequently develop serious complications, such as substance use disorders, if not treated.

Studies² show that up to 40% of persons with OCD have substance use problems, and 70%³ of these sufferers develop their substance use condition after the appearance of OCD symptoms.

Have you considered clinical trials for Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

What is an OCD attack?

OCD is the brain’s fear network signaling that there is something wrong and that it needs to be handled immediately. OCD only reveals feared effects that seem to be meaningful to a person.

Generally, an OCD attack is often associated with someone who struggles with severe anxiety and actively indulges in frantic soothing practices. This could involve uttering self-assuring phrases repeatedly, counting, double-checking over and over again if the doors are locked, or even ensuring the stove is off now and then. 

Such individuals often enter a state of compulsive behaviors until their intrusive thoughts are satisfied. 

Based on the most common symptoms of OCD attacks, practitioners have categorized seven different forms of OCD:

  • Sexual or aggressive thoughts

  • Germs and contamination

  • Harm to loved ones

  • Sin, religion, and morality

  • Doubt and incompleteness

  • Self-control

  • Order and symmetry

When an individual has severe OCD, they are generally unable to function normally. Whether it is going to work, attending classes, running errands, or taking care of yourself, these tasks become difficult to perform. 

Those with severe OCD are usually obsessed with germs and cleanliness, causing them to wash their hands obsessively, clean their homes, or shower several hours a day. They might even fear leaving the house due to fear of contamination. 

Causes of OCD

The causes of OCD are not clear, but some common factors include: 

  • Genetics

  • Neurological/biological factors (a chemical imbalance of serotonin in the brain)

  • Drastic life changes like going to a new job or childbirth

  • Behavioral obsessions and factors like excessive cleanliness or fulfilling the role of taking care of family members at a younger age

  • Severe traumatic experiences 

Is it possible to stop an OCD attack?

It is possible to effectively manage an OCD attack and experience less frequent unexpected episodes. Knowing how to stop it helps you live a better and fuller life.

The first mode of treatment to stop OCD attacks is to see a licensed exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapist.

The healthcare practitioner will guide you through an evidence-based therapeutic session to teach you how to avoid compulsive behaviors and effectively manage OCD episodes on your own.

Other ways to stop an OCD attack include:

  • Pause when the intrusive thought pops up in your head

  • Practice patience and kindness to self when struggling with feelings of guilt, shame, hate, or embarrassment

  • Keep away from stress factors

  • Listen regularly to guided meditations

  • Take long nature walks frequently or during unexpected episodes until it stops

  • Get sufficient sleep

  • Write down obsessive thoughts in your notebook or smartphone until they lose power

Does OCD have a permanent cure?

After undergoing the proper treatment, some people can recover from OCD. However, this primarily depends on the form of OCD you have. 

Once you visit a certified ERP therapist, they will guide you through cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) as the first mode of treatment. This involves exposing you to scenarios you fear to reduce fear, anxiety, and panic.

Another mode of treating OCD permanently is administering prescribed medicines, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) from reputable brands like Luvox, Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, and Anafranil. These medications increase the level of serotonin within the body, and their effects are visible after 8-12 weeks of consuming them as prescribed.

However, some patients show signs of relief after 3-4 weeks.

 Possible side effects of these drugs include:

  • Insomnia

  • Nausea

  • Restlessness

  • Sedation

  • Diarrhea

  • Reduced libido

  • Weight gain

  • Dry mouth

  • Dizziness

Other medications used to treat OCD include anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, and other commonly prescribed drugs for mental health. Patients with this disorder can also take herbal teas or natural supplements to manage their OCD attacks, but only under the guidance of their doctor.

When to see your doctor 

If your OCD attacks make it impossible for you to do basic tasks like going out of your house, work, or even running errands, it is best to consult a mental health practitioner.

Although you might feel embarrassed to seek help, experienced doctors will provide treatments and coping strategies for OCD to help you feel better.

The lowdown

Since OCD is a psychological disorder, it can be challenging to differentiate between what is real and what is obsessive. While some patients can recover through proper treatment, others can only be managed.

The best way to deal with OCD is to practice anxiety reduction strategies whenever possible.

  1. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (2014)

  2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance use disorders | Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

  3. Substance use disorders in an obsessive compulsive disorder clinical sample (2009)

Other Sources:

Have you considered clinical trials for Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

Have you considered clinical trials for Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Do you want to know if there are any Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) clinical trials you might be eligible for?
Have you taken medication for Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?
Have you been diagnosed with Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Editor’s picks


Join our email list

Want all the latest clinical trial and HealthMatch news in your inbox? We thought you might! Sign up below.