Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic mood disorder wherein a person has uncontrollable and repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions).
OCD Signs and Symptoms
People with OCD may have the symptoms of obsessions and/or compulsions. Depending on their severity, these symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, including work, school, and personal relationships.
OCD patients suffer out of proportion to what the general public is able to comprehend. It is not unusual for someone with OCD to have recurrent thoughts of self-harm, even of suicide. OCD is distinctly different than perfectionism, which is a personal philosophy that rejects anything less than perfect. Ketamine infusion therapy can help.
Obsessions are defined as recurring thoughts or impulses that cause anxiety. Common examples include:
- Fear of contamination from viruses, bacteria, and other germs
- Forbidden (taboo) thoughts involving sex, religion, or self-harm
- Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
- Needing things to be symmetrical or in a perfect order
For someone with OCD, Compulsions are defined as the recurring behaviors that one feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought. For example, some common compulsions are:
- Excessive handwashing and/or cleaning
- Arranging things in a particular, precise way
- Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
- Compulsive counting
Everyone double-checks things from time to time. Not all habits or rituals are OCD compulsions. However, as a general rule, a person with OCD generally:
- Faces significant problems in their day-to-day life as a result of these thoughts and behaviors
- Cannot control their thoughts or behaviors, even when they are aware that those thoughts or behaviors are recognized as excessive
- Spends more than one hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors
Treatment of OCD
Historically, the two primary approaches in the treatment of OCD have been cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and oral medications, usually SSRIs. CBT has been most helpful when it includes exposure and response prevention, wherein patients confront their fears and stop their response behaviors. SSRIs often take 8 to 12 weeks to work, and as with Major Depression, more than a third of patients fail to see any improvement.
A newer and much more effective overall treatment option for OCD is Ketamine. Ketamine reduces OCD symptoms quickly, often within 24 hours, and has a much higher response rate compared to SSRIs. As with the treatment of depression and anxiety, another advantage of Ketamine infusion therapy in comparison with the SSRIs is that it has minimal, if any, side effects. Finally, Ketamine can be combined with CBT as a form of Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy, which is especially helpful for OCD patients.
One of the main mechanisms of action of Ketamine in the treatment of treatment resistant depression is by affecting the glutamate levels in our central nervous system. OCD patients also have glutamate abnormalities; studies have demonstrated unusually high levels of glutamate in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of OCD patients. Dr Carolyn Rodriguez, of Stanford, was the first to demonstrate in a randomized, double-blinded research study that Ketamine was very effective in easing OCD symptoms.
In response to overwhelming demand by desperate patients with treatment-resistant OCD, over the last few years, providers have begun treating OCD patients with Ketamine therapy, and have been achieving excellent results. We have been treating OCD with Ketamine infusion therapy since we opened our doors in 2017, and we have many patients who have gotten their lives back after finally getting control of their OCD symptoms. If you are suffering from OCD, contact us at Boulder Mind Care to see if you might also benefit from this ground-breaking new treatment approach.
 C. I. Rodriguez et al. Randomized Controlled Crossover Trial of Ketamine in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Proof-of-Concept https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3799067/