Can Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Be Cured?

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder? Can obsessive-compulsive disorder be cured? Read on to find out.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects a significant part of the U.S. population. Those with loved ones who have OCD may wonder, “can obsessive-compulsive disorder be cured?” Unfortunately, despite OCD touching the lives of so many, accurate and up-to-date statistics can be challenging to find. Recent statistics suggest up to 2.3% of Americans live with OCD.1

Data on OCD indicates that approximately 1 in 40 adults have OCD. Similar data indicates that 1 in 100 youth meet the diagnostic criteria for OCD. As noted above, many studies have outdated information. Therefore, the number of individuals with OCD is likely higher. Can obsessive-compulsive disorder be cured is a common question. This article aims to answer that question.
Can Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Be Cured

What is OCD?

OCD is characterized by two sets of symptoms; obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted thoughts, urges, or images that cause overwhelming, distressing emotions. Compulsions are behaviors or actions that someone with OCD uses to eliminate obsessions or decrease the impact of uncomfortable feelings these obsessions cause.
To better understand the question, “can obsessive-compulsive disorder be cured,” it helps to understand its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.2

How Does One Develop OCD?

Like many mental health conditions, the precise cause of OCD remains unknown. Mental health experts believe there are several possible contributing factors to OCD development, including:3

  • Biological abnormalities or changes in body chemistry
  • Brain abnormalities or changes in brain function
  • Environment 
  • Genetics
  • Learned behaviors

Risk Factors for OCD

A risk factor increases one’s chance of developing a particular condition or illness. Risk factors for many mental health conditions often include psychological, family, genetic and biological components.
In the case of OCD, risk factors that may cause OCD symptoms include:4
  • Excessive stress: Stress may increase the risk of developing OCD. For some, traumatic events trigger the emotional symptoms of OCD, such as rituals and intrusive thoughts. 
  • Family history: Having a parent or other family member with OCD may increase OCD risk.
  • Other mental health conditions: OCD may be connected to other mental health conditions, including depression, substance use disorders, and anxiety disorders.

Symptoms of OCD

OCD symptoms consist of obsessions and compulsions. While many with OCD experience both, it is possible only to have compulsion or obsession symptoms. Some who live with either (or both) do not see their symptoms as unreasonable or excessive.
Still, obsessions and compulsions often occupy a great deal of one’s daily routine leading to disruptions at work, school, and home.

What are Obsession Symptoms?

Obsessions are persistent, unwanted, and repeated thoughts and urges. OCD obsessions are so disruptive that they cause overwhelming and persistent anxiety and distress. Obsessions often “take over” when trying to do or think about other things. Many obsessions have themes such as:

  • Fear of dirt or contamination
  • Symmetry and ordering
  • Thoughts of harming others or oneself
  • Unwanted aggressive or sexual thoughts
  • Persistent doubts and worries (i.e., forgetting to turn off the stove)
These obsessions can lead to stress, fear, avoidance, anxiety, and isolation.

What are Compulsion Symptoms?

Compulsions are actions that one feels obligated to perform to limit the influence of obsessions. They are meant to reduce anxiety related to obsessions. However, they often increase anxiety in the long run. Compulsions are frequently not associated with the problem they are intended to address. Therefore, they only offer short-term anxiety relief.
Similar to obsessions, compulsions also have themes. The most common themes are checking, counting, ordering, and washing. Like obsessions, compulsions can lead to certain recognizable symptoms, such as:
  • Patterned counting
  • Raw, bleeding, or damaged skin from frequent washing
  • Checking doors, stoves, and other hot objects to make sure they are turned off
  • Repeated touching of switches or handles
  • Arranging items to ensure they all face a certain way or are color-coded

Can obsessive-compulsive Disorder be Cured?

If you wonder, can obsessive-compulsive disorder be cured? The short answer is no. There is no single cure for OCD, and symptoms do not go away on their own. However, treatment for OCD can help reduce the intensity and interference of obsessions and compulsions. Studies show that the most effective treatments for OCD are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medications.

Specifically, a type of CBT called exposure and response prevention (ERP) combined with a class of medications called serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) have proven effective in helping people with OCD. Some research suggests up to 70% of people benefit from this treatment combination.5

can obsessive-compulsive disorder be cured

Can Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder be Cured with Treatment?

Can obsessive-compulsive disorder be cured in North Carolina? Although OCD treatment may not lead to a cure, it is possible to manage symptoms and dramatically reduce their impact on your life. Again, the two primary treatments for OCD in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill are psychotherapy and medications.


Exposure and response therapy is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. ERP sessions involve a licensed, trained practitioner who understands how the impacts of exposure therapy can affect someone with OCD. ERP therapy involves gradual exposure to an obsession or feared object.

Repeated exposure to obsessions in a controlled environment allows you to develop and practice the tools necessary to resist urges to perform compulsive rituals.


Specific mental health medications can help control obsessions and compulsions. Typically, mental health providers look to commonly prescribed antidepressant medications as a first line of treatment. Several antidepressants have FDA approval. Some medications are safe to use in youth as young as 6 .
It is important to remember that medications are not ideal for everybody. Certain mental health medications can sometimes lead to potentially dangerous side effects. When talking to your provider about questions such as “can obsessive-compulsive disorder be cured,” and “what are my treatment options,” they will help determine if medications may benefit your or your loved ones’ treatment plan.

Inpatient and Outpatient Care

Therapy for OCD occurs in a variety of settings ranging from minimally intensive outpatient programs to inpatient care. In the outpatient environment, you will work with a therapist for individual therapy sessions once or twice a week. Other similarly minimally intensive therapy programs include intensive outpatient and day programs.

If outpatient therapy is ineffective for you or a loved one, residential or inpatient options may be the most helpful. In a residential setting, providers use psychotherapy and medication in a caring environment that provides 24/7 support and guidance. Most residential programs aim to provide patient care and stabilization until it is possible to transition to a lower level of care in the Triangle area.

Can Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder be Cured at Advaita Integrated Medicine?

While we cannot cure OCD, Advaita Integrated Medicine can help to treat and manage your symptoms. Our team of providers at Advaita Integrated Medicine is here to help you take the first steps toward whole-person recovery. We understand that healing the mind, body, and spirit as one unit is necessary to achieve optimal wellness. Our team of licensed, caring, compassionate mental health professionals will work with you to develop a care plan that meets you where you are and guides you as you progress through your wellness journey.

One of our treatment professionals can answer your questions, such as can obsessive-compulsive disorder be cured and others. To learn more about OCD treatment near you, contact a member of our admissions team today.

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