Fluoxetine for contamination OCD - My OCD Community

My OCD Community

3,365 members1,640 posts

Fluoxetine for contamination OCD


Hi all, I was wondering if anyone had taken fluoxetine for OCD and it helped?

Soon after my son was born I developed severe contamination OCD, with fears that my son would get contamination from bacteria. Which had resulted in excessive hand washing, laundry and avoidance of "contaminated" items and areas, from fear I would get bacteria on me and pass it on to my son and make him ill or worse.

I have had CBT/ERT and that has worked a bit, to some extent, but I still really struggle. I have been given fluoxetine, but I am scared to take it due to potential side effects possibly being permanent and I really did want to try and beat it on my own/without meds. But I don't think I can, I just do not have the energy or "bothered" to tackle my compulsions. If I pluck up the courage to try meds, I'm hoping they will give me that little boost and maybe quieten the OCDemon enough for me to be able to do my ERT more effectively.

So I was wondering if anyone had any experience with fluoxetine?

Did it help you?

Did it enable you to do CBT/ERT?

Did you have any side effects?

If so, did they subside after a few weeks?

Or those of you who have taken fluoxetine in the past, did any side effects continue even after you stopped taking fluoxetine?

15 Replies

You sound just like me! I too developed contamination issues after my first child was born. That was almost 35 years ago and I still suffer with it ( not as bad since I have just learned ways to live with it over the years). I have been taking fluoxetine also for the past 30 years or so and have to say I do believe it helps to calm my mind a bit. I do notice a difference when I stop taking it for periods of time. Fortunately I have not noticed any side effects but everyone is different. You may want to give it a try.

mmmmww in reply to LuvSun

Thank you for your reply.Yea, it is quite strange for me as how I am now is the complete opposite to how I was before he was born.

Before birth I was actually a bit gross if I am honest. Happy to use the "3 second rule" with food off the floor, rarely cleaned/did house work, was fine that my washing had mould in the rubber seal, fine with having a good ol' "rumage" up the nose and occasionally not washing hands after going toilet (told you I was gross). Then a few months after his birth, bam it hits me like a ton of dirty bricks.

I am still not bothered about "contaminating" myself and I can still happily use the 3 second rule and such, if I am the one eating it. But not for my son from fear of making him ill or worse. So I am now scared of things like bins, toilets etc. We bought a new washing machine but I still take each laundered item out individually so that it does not touch the outer of the rubber seal on its way out of the machine. Not because of mould (there is none) but because the dirty clothes touched it on the way into the machine. If an item does touch it, have to rewash it. I used to happily drag all the washing out the machine, and spend as little time as possible doing laundry. But now laundry takes about 1.5 hours for 1 load.

And I am scared of the vacuum cleaner.

I am working on things using the CBT ERT and I involve my son with them. Like getting my son to touch "contaminated" items, such as the vacuum cleaner. But some things are very difficult and I do not have the strength, energy or will to complete most of the larger exposures.

I am hoping the meds will help give me the strength I am lacking.

My son is only 20 months old, so only suffered with this OCD for about 17 months and it is a nightmare, so for you to have it for 35 years, I applaud you for being able to manage it and muster through it for so long

I think CBT/ERP are helping me the most these days, but I'm also on a very low dose of fluoxetine (20mg/day), which I started about 20 years ago. I have had a variety of OCD themes, including contamination, and I think fluoxetine makes the intrusive thoughts a bit less "sticky." Apparently a higher dose is standard for OCD, and if I can't get rid of my remaining symptoms through therapy (which I started about a year ago), I will probably try increasing the fluoxetine.

The only side effect I've ever pinpointed is that my platelet count is a bit lower than normal when I've had routine blood work done. Nowhere near a dangerous level, and when I've backed off the fluoxetine, it went back to normal. But again, my doctor said the slightly low counts were perfectly acceptable and not a concern.

When I discussed increasing my meds with my therapist, she mentioned that people do sometimes use the meds to help resist compulsions for awhile, then back off after they've broken their OCD habits. So you wouldn't necessarily have to stay on it forever.

mmmmww in reply to MothFir

Thanks for your reply.

I think I understand what you are saying about "less sticky". And I think this may be a sort of response that I am after from the meds. Something to take the edge off/give me the strength to do some of the bigger exposures. As currently I do not have the strength, energy or will.

I either do the exposure and freak out too much and just give in to the compulsions. Or I just can't be bothered to do the exposure in the first place.

You also sound just like me. I had OCD for most of my life 35 years. So don't feel alone OCD is a bully and very time consuming to the point you feel crippled or disabling in an OCD way. I've had various OCD rituals like counting, checking doors, to repeating phrases. My main OCD now is severe OCD contimation. I practically avoid touching almost anything around the house like indoor bins, toilet flush, door handles. I completely understand after giving birth you are told to sertilise bottles and surfaces so most woman do have OCD from that point as your thinking or trying to think you'll be the best mom if kept on top of cleaning so your child doesn't get ill. My 2 children during the lockdown got so fed up of waiting for me to finish my rituals of handwashing sometimes upto an hour long, few times a day. It's impacted on my relationship with my husband who's also exhausted watching or waiting for me to make simple lunch. As my children are home schooling and I noticed my 8 yr old daughter now seeing me picking up some of theses rituals which scares me as I'm the one who's causing it. She thinks excessive handwashing is normal and plus her school tells her to wash and hand sanitizer which doesn't help. As I tell her to be quick and distract her to help her not end up with OCD. So I had to finally reach out to get some help i saw my doctor. I'm doing CBT online but I'm struggling with ERP on my own and will try and avoid it where possible which than just makes it worse as I'm feeling I've made no progress if my mind thoughts are to rewash my hands knowing I've already done few mins ago. I am taking fluoxtine 40mg but started a month ago on 20mg and working up to the higher dose 60mg as I'm not noticing any benefit but was advice it can take upto 12 weeks to notice any benefit. I believe they are meant to help take the edge off abit from the cumplsion. So give it a try you won't know until you try it. I had no side effects but it might as I take it just before bed 8pm. If only one day they find a quick cure or jab to get rid of this horrible illness as wouldn't that be so great for the younger generation to come so they don't suffer in silence like most of us have due to feeling it wasn't known or heard of much. As If giving birth they would say its postnal depression but I knew full well it's OCD as I've had it most of my life from the age of 7 yrs due to the loss of my father which I believe triggered it all off the insecurity in my life. Good luck give the medication a try especially being indoors in lockdown with a baby is hard enough. So maybe taking off the edge will help you get by.

mmmmww in reply to Oldbury1

Thanks for your reply.

Yes these rituals/compulsions are extremely time consuming. Took about 2 hours to clean the bathroom sink the other day.

Due to this I tend to avoid these things. If you were to come in to my house you wouldn't believe I have contamination OCD because it is a mess, from me avoiding cleaning/tidying.

It is easier for me to leave it and avoid it than to spend hours and many hand washes tackling it.

But I am hoping the fluoxetine will help bring my mood up enough to give me the boost I need to be able to work on these things.

I also hope it will help give me a bit more patients with my son. With the stress, low mood, lack of energy, I do end up shouting at him sometimes, when he is really frustrating me. But after I feel really horrible and guilty as he doesn't know any better and is just being a normal toddler.

I sympathise with you with the loss of your dad, I lost my dad when I was 13 and my mum died when I was 29, so both parents gone before the age of 30. I took these in the chin though and carried on fine, until my son was born. It has all been down hill from there.

Having suffered it for only 17 months, I am dreading having to suffer it for the rest of my life,

I also think it will be the deciding factor on whether we have any more children. We had always said about having two, but if this OCD doesn't improve I doubt we will be able to have another, I don't think I could cope.

Oh Yes. I have taken Fluoxetine for many MANY years. It absolutely helped me a great deal with OCD. I did have a few small side affects but they did subside after awhile. I had a little nausea for awhile...not to where I vomited, but just a little "icky" feeling. I have taken it probably since about 1990'ish.

In about 2016 (ish) it seemed to quit working for me so I went to Trintellix but I am still supplementing with the Fluoxetine.

If you do start taking it (I would encourage you to), it's something like many drugs, that you wouldn't want to just stop suddenly...you would work with your doctor to slowing discontinue. It does stay in your body for quite a while.

It's really a very good medicine and it did really work for me. I can't see where it would affect your therapy, but as you know, medicine works differently for everyone.


mmmmww in reply to 3BirdLover

Thank you.That is great to hear that it worked so well for you.

Yes, I have been informed that I need to wean/taper off rather than just stop, Shame this makes the process longer, but needs must.

I have previously tried the herbal/vitamin route and was taking 5htp for a few months and they gave me the "icky" feeling you describe, so know what you are talking about. Sadly they did not really work, didn't seem to help/do anything.

Hi I found Fluoxetine helped me with my OCD I also did CBT. It’s not a miracle cure but it has eased things a bit. I take 40mg Fluoxetine. It seems to be the best thing I’ve tried so far for OCD

mmmmww in reply to Leahcar100

Thank you for your reply

I too struggle with Contamination OCD (since ~2010) and have tried meds, CBT/ERP, and lifestyle changes. All have helped, but Fluoxetine has had the greatest impact. I am currently on 40 mg / day as I have found less is not as effective and more is not something I feel I need (at this point). I haven’t noticed any side effects since taking it (since Aug2019).

mmmmww in reply to MvmntXprt

Thank you for your reply

Thank you all for your replies, they have all helped a great deal.I have now decided to bite the bullet... Or the pill, so to speak and I started taking the fluoxetine today.


MothFir in reply to mmmmww

Great! I hope it helps. It really does take awhile to "kick in" -- about 6 weeks, in my case. If it never does any good, or gives you side effects, try another anti-obsessive. In conjunction with therapy they really can make a difference.

mmmmww in reply to MothFir

Thanks 😊

You may also like...