Each individual with obsessive-compulsive disorder has a unique and customized treatment plan. In many cases, that includes the use of medication in tandem with ERP (exposure response prevention). An effective and proven medication for OCD treatment is a drug called a SSRI (Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor). Although SSRI’s are commonly used for depression, the use of this treatment helps OCD patients see a reduction of 40% to 60% of frequency in symptoms.
According to the IOCDF (International OCD Foundation), over half of OCD patients will need to be on at least a low grade dose of medication for many years, if not for life. Despite this statistic, there is a lot of shame and stigma around not only individuals who use medication, but especially for individuals who use medication for long periods of time.
The Stigma Around Medication
In many cases, the stigma around using medication in OCD treatment is that it is only used for a “short term” solution or it’s something to be weaned off of. It’s not always addressed as a long term solution. People might have their own shame or guilt around using medication or feel “weak” because of this stigma. In some cases, someone might even wean themselves off of medication due to this fear or shame.
Erasing the Stigma around Medication
Any individual who uses medication for mental health is not weak! If medication is the right treatment plan for someone, the best thing they can do is to continue that treatment under the supervision of their health practitioner. For the OCD community, it’s important individuals work together to support all types of recovery journeys.
Other ways to reduce the stigma:
- Education around side effects: It’s important to discuss the side effects around medication when considering a treatment plan. This is a conversation between the practitioner and patient, but prior education can help an individual monitor their experiences as they manage their medication dose.
- Treat mental health like physical health: The use of daily medication for mental health should be regarded in the same way as long term use of medication for physical health. Telling someone they don’t need medication long term could be damaging to a life saving treatment plan.
- Share stories around recovery: Whether it’s participating in a peer group, talking with family/friends, or even writing a blog, the more individuals can share their stories and experiences, the more awareness will be spread around medication use for OCD recovery.