What Do OCD Medications Actually Contain?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a debilitating mental health disorder associated with pervasive, persistent, and unwanted thoughts (obsessions), followed by a series of ritualistic actions (compulsions) designed to quell these overpowering thoughts. As a first line of defense against OCD, medications are roundly prescribed. The OCD medication guide consists of a lengthy list of approved medications, notably antidepressants. Various alternatives are readily available, notably off-label meds used for treating OCD symptoms.

We begin our discussion of OCD medications with a look at several ranking antidepressants for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. The following FDA-approved medications are considered the gold standard vis-a-vis OCD treatment: Zoloft, Paxil, Anafranil, Luvox and, Prozac. These meds include a combination of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), and Tricyclic Antidepressants. These are all commonly prescribed medications for treating OCD, and we will look at each of them in turn.

All medications come with side effects, some more serious than others. Among the most common side effects of taking antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and the like are blurred vision, sexual dysfunction, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, dry mouth, insomnia, fatigue, loss of appetite, and anxiety. These side effects can vary in severity from one medication to the next, and from person to person.

It is certainly worthwhile considering alternatives to OCD medication for treating this mental health condition. These include, but are not limited to Deep TMS™ (a sophisticated and upgraded version of traditional TMS using a high-tech magnetic coil to target neural activity deeper and broader in the brain), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and various surgical alternatives. Be advised that surgical procedures come with many attendant risks, including infection, complications, and in the worst case scenario even death. Below are the active and inactive ingredients of OCD medications.

Zoloft – Zoloft or Sertraline is a popularly prescribed SSRI antidepressant. It is fully approved by the FDA for treating adult OCD, as well as OCD in children aged 6+. According to the FDA, the active ingredient in Zoloft is sertraline hydrochloride. There are of course many other inactive ingredients, notably:

Tablets: dibasic calcium phosphate dihydrate, D&C Yellow #10 aluminum lake (in 25 mg tablet), FD&C Blue #1 aluminum lake (in 25 mg tablet), FD&C Red #40 aluminum lake (in 25 mg tablet), FD&C Blue #2 aluminum lake (in 50 mg tablet), hydroxypropyl cellulose, hypromellose, magnesium, stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, polysorbate 80, sodium starch glycolate, synthetic yellow iron oxide (in 100 mg tablet), and titanium dioxide

  • Oral concentration: glycerin, alcohol (12%), menthol, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)’

PaxilPaxil, or Paroxetine is also an SSRI medication. This antidepressant is FDA approved for treating OCD in adults. It is available in two forms: liquid suspension and oral tablet. According to the FDA, the active ingredient in Paxil is Paroxetine Hydrochloride. The are many inactive ingredients, notably:

Tablets: dibasic calcium phosphate dihydrate, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, polyethylene glycols, polysorbate 80, sodium starch glycolate, titanium dioxide, and 1 or more of the following: D&C Red No. 30 aluminum lake, D&C Yellow No. 10 aluminum lake, 

FD&C Blue No. 2 aluminum lake, FD&C Yellow No. 6 aluminum lake. 

Oral administration: polacrilin potassium, microcrystalline cellulose, propylene glycol, glycerin, sorbitol, methylparaben, propylparaben, sodium citrate dihydrate, citric acid anhydrous, sodium saccharin, flavorings, FD&C Yellow No. 6 aluminum lake, and simethicone emulsion, USP.’

AnafranilAnafranil or Clomipramine is a tricyclic antidepressant medication. It is widely prescribed for treating OCD in children aged 10+ and adults. Tricyclic antidepressants are associated with multiple side effects, and typically not prescribed as a first form of treatment for OCD. The active ingredient in Anafranil is Clomipramine, and the list of inactive ingredients includes the following:

‘Inactive Ingredients. D&C Red No.  33 (25 mg capsules only), D&C Yellow No.  10, 

FD&C Blue No. 1 (50 mg capsules only), FD&C Yellow No.  6, gelatin, magnesium 

stearate, methylparaben, propyl paraben, starch (corn), and titanium dioxide.’

LuvoxLuvox or Fluvoxamine is a popular SSRI antidepressant. The FDA has approved this medication for children aged 8+, and adults with OCD. This medication is readily available in an extended release capsule, as well as a tablet.

Active ingredient: Fluvoxamine Maleate

Inactive ingredients: carnauba wax, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, mannitol, polyethylene glycol, polysorbate 80, pregelatinized starch (potato), silicon dioxide, sodium stearyl fumarate, starch (corn), and titanium dioxide. The 50 mg and 100 mg tablets also contain synthetic iron oxides.’

 Prozacalso known as fluoxetine is a popularly prescribed antidepressant. This SSRI medication is designed to up the serotonin levels in the brain. Prozac is fully endorsed by the FDA for treating OCD in patients aged 7+ years old.

According to the FDA medication guide, the active ingredient in Prozac is Fluoxetine Hydrochloride. The inactive ingredients include the following:

PROZAC Pulvules: starch, gelatin, silicone, titanium dioxide, iron oxide, and other inactive ingredients. The 10 and 20 mg Pulvules also contain FD&C Blue No. 1, and the 40 mg Pulvules also contains FD&C Blue No. 1 and FD&C Yellow No. 6.

  • PROZAC Weekly™ capsules: D&C Yellow No. 10, FD&C Blue No. 2, gelatin,hypromellose, hypromellose acetate succinate, sodium lauryl sulfate, sucrose, sugar spheres, talc, titanium oxide, triethyl citrate, and other inactive ingredients. This Medication Guide has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Naturally, there are various off label medications used for treating OCD, notably Escitalopram (Lexapro), Citalopram (Celexa), Duloxetine (Cymbalta), and Venlafaxine (Effexor). Note that SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), and SNRIs (Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors) are used to treat OCD.

Yet another medication is routinely prescribed by psychiatrists, and other medical doctors for treating OCD, notably benzodiazepines. While they are highly effective at treating anxiety, their efficacy with regards to treating OCD is less pronounced. Unfortunately, benzodiazepines can be addictive and patients develop a tolerance to these minutes. If benzodiazepines are discontinued, withdrawal symptoms can result.


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