Most likely not. We know how bad OCD can get, but the vast majority of people can be treated successfully on an outpatient basis. Although OCD can make life miserable, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, which includes a technique known as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), can be very effective in significantly reducing your symptoms.
Most people receive CBT through a series of weekly office visits, which are typically one hour in length. In some cases, sessions with the cognitive behavior therapist may have to be longer or more frequent. You will also be assigned ERP homework exercises (specifically tailored to your symptoms) to complete between therapy sessions. These homework assignments must be completed conscientiously if you want to make good progress.
In some cases, medication is necessary when the anxiety associated with OCD is severe, or if other conditions such as depression or ADHD (also called “ADD”) co-occur with OCD.
When a more intensive level of care is necessary, options include intensive outpatient, day program, partial hospital, and residential programs. Hospitalization usually occurs only when patients are unable to care for themselves or they pose a danger to themselves or others.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or talking about hurting him or herself, take action immediately. You can:
- Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room
- Talk to someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Call campus security
- Go to or call the student health center
- Confide in your residence hall advisor, a faculty member or a staff person