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Achieving Wellness from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a treatment study sponsored by NIMH.

Staying Well Without Medication

Why Discontinue Medication?

While medication is an important and useful tool to give people some relief from the symptoms of OCD, it also has its downsides. Some people who take SRI medication for OCD experience unpleasant side effects, such as sexual difficulties, weight gain and sleep disturbances. While these side effects may be acceptable in the short-term, they can significantly affect health and quality of life over time. Despite this, many OCD patients often remain on medication indefinitely because they fear relapse if they stop the medication. While studies vary in their results, they generally show that some patients are able to discontinue SRI medication without significant worsening of their symptoms.

Can Therapy Help You Safely Stop Taking Medication?

No controlled study has been conducted yet to examine whether OCD patients on SRI medication who become well after EX/RP can maintain their gains after discontinuing their medication just as well as those who remain on medication. It has been shown, however, that augmenting SRI medication with EX/RP helps OCD patients get better, and that the gains from treatment last after discontinuation of EX/RP. This study will investigate whether EX/RP provides patients with the skills and strategies to make those gains last without medication. This study will also examine whether we can predict who can attain wellness from EX/RP and who can successfully maintain these gains when they discontinue their SRI medication.

Warning: People with OCD should never try to stop taking their medication without supervision by their psychiatrist.