Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be a misunderstood condition until you have met someone struggling with OCD. It involves more than worrying about whether spices are in alphabetical order. It is an exhausting and frustrating disorder that can negatively impact the lives of patients.
More than 2 million American adults (roughly 1% of the population) have OCD. The average age where symptoms start to occur is nineteen (19) years. But 25% of the cases of OCD are diagnosed by age fourteen (14). More than thirty percent of diagnosed adults first experienced OCD symptoms when they were a minor.
Some studies suggest as many as 33% of patients with OCD do not get relief from conventional treatments. Many turn to substance abuse.  Even when they have the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and antidepressant medications. For those unable to reduce OCD symptoms with prescription medications and therapy, ketamine may hold new hope.
Treatment of OCD means addressing two different symptom groups and triggers. Identifying what makes the patient have strong obsessive feelings about certain objects, people, or other stimuli. And the second goal of OCD therapy is learning how to control or manage the compulsions.
What Causes Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
Like other mental health disorders, scientists aren’t 100% sure what causes OCD to develop. And researchers also don’t know what the OCD gene looks like. Or where it is produced. But they have discovered that it can be hereditary.
If you are a child of a parent who has OCD, you have almost a 50% chance of developing the condition. The condition can be passed through generations. The research into obsessive-compulsive disorder has, however, provided a common list of triggers. And identified certain risks of developing OCD which increase based on lifestyle and other factors.
Some studies have suggested that OCD can develop when a child is diagnosed with a moderate streptococcal infection. The body has a strong reaction to Strep infections and starts producing antibodies that can create a chemical imbalance in the brain.
There are many Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders (PANDAS) associated with severe streptococcal infections. But it is believed that OCD develops in children after a streptococcal infection only if the child has a hereditary predisposition to the disorder. And that if caused by a strep infection, symptoms of OCD materialize 1-2 weeks later.
Patients may also learn the behaviors of OCD from a family member. Some mental health experts believe that OCD can be observed as a child, and then mirrored. This can result in early-onset OCD where children are mimicking a parent or family member. Or obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms that present later in life, that are similar to the tics of a close family member.
What are the Symptoms of OCD?
The symptoms of OCD can be quite harmful. On television or movies, you may see someone with a mild form of OCD. Someone who has an obsession with cleaning or changing their clothing several times throughout the day. When you have moderate to severe OCD, the symptoms can be far worse.
There are two behaviors that constitute OCD; obsession and compulsion. The symptoms that a patient experiences can be a little different for each behavioral disorder .
Symptoms of obsession are unwanted thoughts, urges, and even mental images that can cause a great deal of distress. One of the ways that people with severe OCD may deal with obsessive spells is to do an activity that provides a temporary distraction. This is why people who are diagnosed with OCD sometimes develop tics.
Symptoms of Obsessive Behaviors
We use the term ‘obsessed’ like it is a good thing. We are obsessed with our new hobby, or a car we love. But in clinical terms, obsession is a harmful, exhausting, and destructive behavior.
Patients exhibiting obsessive behaviors can:
- Have a deep fear of germs, or contamination, and dirt.
- Have great anxiety when dealing with situations that involve unpredictability or uncertainty.
- Feel a pressing need to have things in order. Whether that is numerical, alphabetical, or symmetrical order, they may not be able to relax until they have organized their environment.
- Experience thoughts of violence, self-harm, and harming others.
- Manifest feelings of aggression.
- Find themselves thinking persistently about unpleasant or inappropriate topics or objects and activities.
One of the diagnostic clues about OCD is that the patient usually feels upset because they cannot control obsession. And the patient can rarely choose the object of obsession either. They may, for example, have no interest in cats whatsoever and find themselves consumed by thoughts about cats.
Symptoms of Compulsive Behaviors
Compulsive behaviors for someone who has OCD are either coping mechanisms that they use when they have an episode. Or they can be representative of protective moves or activities that the patient can complete to protect themselves from danger.
Like obsessive disorders, compulsions can fall into common themes. For example, if someone is germ-phobic, they may develop compulsive cleaning behaviors. If someone has an obsession with home safety, they check the doors repeatedly to make sure they are locked.
Some patients may have an obsession with being ‘perfect’ and a compulsion to accurately schedule every aspect of their day. Most compulsive behaviors are not complex and can be easily traced back to the patient’s trauma and emotional triggers.
Examples of compulsive behaviors include:
- Repeated hand washing to the extent that skin can become damaged and painful
- Seeing or looking for numbers or numerical patterns
- Repeating a phrase or a word quietly to yourself
- Frequently changing sheets and linens
- Turning all dry groceries so that the label faces outward
Obsessive-compulsive disorder can also cause (or make symptoms worse) for patients with depression, anxiety, tic disorders, and substance abuse. The persistent pattern of fears and unwanted thoughts leads to repetitive behaviors that are hard to ignore. And when patients try to ignore the compulsions, it can increase stress and anxiety.
How Long Does it Take for Ketamine to Work on OCD?
Have you ever heard that medications for anxiety or depression need time to ‘build up in your system’ before you see any kind of symptom relief? That is because the medications have to be administered in small doses over a period of time, allowing the brain to slowly adjust to changes. Large doses of medication aren’t an option because they could impact the safety of the patient.
The problem with that slow uptake period is that the patient does not get symptom relief. And if the patient is suffering debilitating symptoms, the longer they wait, the more at risk they may be for self-harm. Sometimes patients getting help from a doctor for OCD can become impatient when they don’t see progress.
Keeping patients in a mental health treatment plan is challenging when they don’t see improvement. Helping patients subdue symptoms of OCD is better when the patient gets faster results.
Some people also find that the conventional medications prescribed for OCD have side effects. And some of the side effects can be almost worse than the symptoms. Ketamine has shown a lot of promise in many clinical studies.
Not only can therapeutic ketamine treatments help reduce symptoms of OCD, but it is fast-acting compared to other mental health medications. And over time, the results last longer for the patient, who can reduce the frequency of treatments for maintenance therapy.
Is There a Cure for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
There is no current cure for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Patients and physicians aim to reduce the symptoms of OCD, to lower the stress and disruption the behaviors can have on daily life. A diagnosis of OCD means finding long-term productive and healthy ways to manage both obsessive and compulsive behaviors.
One of the obstacles patients encounter when treating OCD is coping with the number of therapies and doctor’s appointments. Not everyone can take days off during the week. With TripSitter.Clinic, the exact dose of clinical ketamine is discreetly shipped to your home. This makes it easier for patients to continue treatments on a regular schedule if required.
What Medical Treatments Are Used to Help People with OCD?
When patients start a treatment plan for OCD, the plan may change over time. That is because the obsessive-compulsive disorder is not only about a set number of triggers. As the patient gets older, the things they become obsessed with may change a lot.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be focused on a theme. But that theme of OCD can change dramatically. For example, a patient may like dogs, and then years later, develop a deep-rooted fear of dogs, for no reason. And then formulate compulsive disorders like running away, freezing (paralysis), or even shouting at a dog to scare it away.
Conventional treatments for OCD in the United States included therapy and counseling and pharmacotherapy. The physician may prescribe medications that help to regulate serotonin levels. Serotonin is a brain hormone responsible for sleep, hunger, mood, and energy. The class of drugs prescribed is SRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors).
There are seven (7) serotonin reuptake inhibitors that are frequently prescribed to patients with OCD. The prescriptions include Anafranil, Prozac, Luvox, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, and Lexapro.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used to retrain compulsive behaviors. Or replace hazardous tics and behaviors with another less harmful activity. Some patients learn how to use crosswords, sudoku puzzles, or other brain games as a healthy alternative activity and distraction.
Which Psychedelics Work for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
There are many psychedelic drugs that may have a therapeutic benefit for patients with OCD. Psilocybin (magic mushrooms) is one alternative for patients. But they are not legalized in most states, and clinical psilocybin is illegal and expensive to buy.
Ketamine has shown the potential to help reduce the symptoms of OCD. Ketamine is a federally legalized drug, and doctors are permitted to prescribe it for off-label use. And some patients and practitioners believe that it can provide fast-acting relief  of some of the most debilitating types of OCD symptoms.
Ketamine, through our physician network, is prescribed only after an in-depth telemedicine appointment. Two types of intake methods are available for patients; ketamine in a tablet form or as a nasal vapor spray. Both methods contain the exact dose ordered by the supervising physician and are accessible for the patient to take.
How Do You Feel After a Ketamine Treatment?
Ketamine is legal for physicians to prescribe for off-label use. Worldwide, there is increasing research into the value of psychedelic drugs for mental health therapies. And what many of the studies suggest is that psychedelic medications may help unlock traumas and emotional injuries. While helping the brain to repair communication and mood moderation.
Many patients report that they feel emotionally lighter after ketamine treatments. Some have described it as liberating. They do not feel that they are heavily carrying many of the emotional burdens they were holding on to. That may be the impact of the ketamine on the NMDA receptor in the brain.
Some patients with OCD have reported that the ‘volume’ on disruptive brain chatter and thoughts was turned down. Ketamine could help reduce the number of thoughts and the magnitude of obsessive thoughts so that they are not overwhelming. Or exhausting for patients.
Can I See an Online Doctor for OCD?
What if you could talk to a doctor about supervised ketamine treatments at home? Patients enrolled for ketamine therapies with a TripSitter.Clinic practitioners do not have to leave home to complete the mandatory health evaluation. And if approved, patients don’t have to visit a pharmacy to pick up the medication. It is delivered right to your front door in secure and discreet packaging.
If you have a qualifying mental health condition, you can schedule an appointment with a physician and learn more about ketamine therapy for OCD. Patients who have a current formal diagnosis of OCD can schedule an appointment.
The telemedicine appointment and health check will be conducted by a licensed doctor to practice in your state. The physician will also discuss any non-prescription or lifestyle drugs you may be taking, which could conflict with the ketamine treatments.
Depending on the nature of your diagnosis, you may be asked for a copy of your health records for 1-3 years prior to your visit with a TripSitter.Clinic practitioner. The purpose of the health evaluation is to make sure ketamine is a safe treatment option.
 “Therapeutic Potentials of Ketamine and Esketamine in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and Eating Disorders (ED): A Review of the Current Literature”, MDPI, 2021.
 “Synthesizing the Evidence for Ketamine and Esketamine in Treatment-Resistant Depression: An International Expert Opinion on the Available Evidence and Implementation”, The American Journal of Psychiatry, 2020.
 “Rapid anti-obsessive treatments of obsessive-compulsive disorder: reviewing effects of ketamine in OCD”, Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 2021.