OCD Chicago

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Information for Parents

OCD Medication Information

When treating OCD in children, medication alone generally does not provide the same level of relief as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).  Sometimes medication is prescribed in conjunction with CBT for moderate to severe OCD.

Your child’s therapist can refer you to a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication, often on a temporary basis.  Once the child is able to better manage the anxiety and stress during CBT, the medication may be tapered off and then eliminated.  (It should never be discontinued abruptly.)

Not all psychiatrists have experience treating childhood OCD, so be sure to confirm that the psychiatrist you choose has experience prescribing OCD medications for children. Treatment may involve gradual dose increases, contending with possible side effects or using a combination of medications to achieve the best results.

Antidepressants classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are known to decrease OCD symptoms in many children.  Not all of the medications approved for use in adults are approved for use in children.

Most anti-OCD medications do not show symptom relief immediately; some may begin to work a few weeks, but often it may take 8 -12 weeks or more to notice relief.  Sometimes an SSRI will be prescribed in combination with another medication to ease symptoms.

Parents must be patient throughout this process.  It’s natural to want immediate relief for your child, but the psychiatrist will be most likely start with a low dose of medication for your child.  You’ll need to monitor your child’s behavior and reaction to the medication, to ensure that no allergy or side effects occur that would interfere with general health or your child’s ability to undergo therapy.  CBT sessions may begin at any time after medication is prescribed, depending on your child’s tolerance level.

Although medication can be helpful in treating OCD, many experts believe that Cognitive Behavior Therapy can be effective more quickly in treating OCD symptoms, and has longer-lasting benefits.  Studies have shown that lower relapse rates occur when CBT is discontinued than when medication is stopped.  If medication is prescribed, many experts believe it should be done in conjunction with CBT because the combination is generally more effective than medication alone.

Questions to Ask the Doctor About Medication for Your Child

As a parent, it’s natural to have concerns about medicating your child.  Before seeking medication for your child’s OCD, or if your child’s doctor recommends medication, you’ll want to become knowledgeable about the medication, how it works, and any possible side effects.  Be sure to talk with the doctor and ask questions to help you get the most information possible.

Questions to Ask your Doctor About OCD Medications

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