Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Diagnosis & Therapy

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Diagnosis & Therapy
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Diagnosis & Therapy
Video: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Diagnosis & Therapy
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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Diagnosis & Therapy

If constraints are at the center of life or if they are perceived as stressful and restrict everyday life, professional help is necessary. It is often not easy for sick people to overcome themselves and to contact a specialist in psychiatry or a psychotherapist, for example. But they are familiar with OCD and can help…


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The suspected diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder is made by means of a precise survey of the medical history (anamnesis), clinical-psychological diagnosis or a psychotherapeutic conversation. Before the diagnosis is made, physical ailments are excluded (e.g. by means of a neurological examination). In addition, it must be clarified whether the obsession is a concomitant disease of another mental illness (e.g. depression) or whether another mental illness is the basis for the obsessive-compulsive disorder (e.g. depression or schizophrenia).

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is usually diagnosed according to the ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases). Recurring obsessive thoughts and actions are among the essential characteristics. These positively impose themselves and are experienced as difficult or uncontrollable. The thoughts come from the person concerned and he is aware of them. The obsessive-compulsive behavior is experienced as nonsensical and stressful by the sick.

For more information on obsessive-compulsive thoughts and actions, see Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders.


In most cases, a combination of medication and psychotherapy is used for treatment. Clinical-psychological treatment is also available as a therapy option. If the disease is very severe, an inpatient hospital stay or rehabilitation may be necessary.


The psychotherapist or doctor with further training in psychotherapeutic medicine or a specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy have the relevant knowledge and skills. Problems, fears and worries are discussed in a trusting environment. Dealing with the disease is learned and practical assistance is provided to control behavior. Subsequently, the mental suffering should be alleviated or healed. Fears, which are mostly behind the compulsive actions, are addressed and attempts are made to face them.

Behavioral therapeutic approaches, which were learned not only by behavior therapists, but also, if necessary, by psychotherapists with other psychotherapeutic methods in appropriate further training, have particularly proven themselves in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), also used for depression, have been shown to be effective in obsessive-compulsive disorders. These bring messenger substances in the brain (neurotransmitters) back into balance. In addition, so-called tricyclic antidepressants are administered. Treatment with a clinical psychologist can also be helpful. They teach specific coping strategies in dealing with the constraints.

Whom can I ask?

If you suspect you have an obsessive-compulsive disorder or if it has already been diagnosed, you can contact the following offices:

  • Resident specialist in psychiatry
  • Cash outpatient department or hospital outpatient department for psychiatry
  • Psychotherapist
  • Doctors with advanced training in psychotherapeutic medicine

You can also contact your general practitioner first and thus find specific points of contact. Psychologists can be significantly involved in diagnosis and treatment.

For more information, see Finding a Contact.

How are the costs going to be covered?

The costs for the medical examination and treatment are covered by the social security agencies. For more information about visiting a doctor, see Costs and Deductibles.

A full assumption of costs for psychotherapy is possible in own or contractually bound institutions of the health insurance carriers as well as in institutions that are subsidized by the public purse. In these cases, there is the option of paying a deductible. Otherwise, you have the option of applying for a subsidy from the health insurance company if you are undergoing psychotherapy with a resident psychotherapist. If this is approved, the health insurance provider will reimburse you for part of the fee paid to the psychotherapist. Further information on "Psychotherapy on sickness certificate",You can find subsidies and addresses of resident psychotherapists under Services.

The clinical-psychological diagnosis is a service provided by the social insurance institutions. The clinical-psychological treatment, however, must be paid for by yourself.

Information on costs for a hospital stay can be found under What does a hospital stay cost? You can find out more about a rehabilitation stay under Rehabilitation.

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