I agree so much with campbellredhead's post-on the issue that it is just as important to deal with the therapy aspect of this, as well as the medication. I don't personally think it is good to just hand out the medications-simply because you aren't doing anything at all about the problem-you are just treating it.
This would be equivalent to a heart patient having a bypass surgery, but continuing to eat shortening and butter and never get off the couch.
If you do go with the medication route, I think it is very important as well to talk with a counselor or therapist that is familiar with anxiety disorders. Depression is pretty common and most therapists deal with that, but anxiety disorders-anxiety and panic attacks, OCD, bipolar/manic depressive, and other things are a whole different ballgame. You can't just go to a counselor who is used to dealing with marriage issues, you know?
For instance, with my OCD and the compulsions that I have with it-my parents would just tell me/beg me to "quit stressing out" and to "relax". For those of you who don't know me-my obsessions aren't the classic "everyone can see them-handwashing-germaphobe sort of thing."Mine have to do with symmetry/organization, things being "just right", perfection, numbers, listmaking, repeatedly checking things, order of items, etc.-and then the phobias/fears. As a professional dancer, and as a seamstress/costume maker-they thought I was just overworking myself and being too much of a perfectionist in my work. They thought that if I just "worked less" and took some time off that I would be fine.
I literally had to explain to them, that if I wasn't up all hours of the night hand beading a costume piece perfectly for 7 hours-that I would be walking around instead picking lint and cat hair off the carpet by hand until it was all gone, and sorting a bag of M&Ms by color.
They just didn't "get it". The anxiety is there, and in my case, it has to be released in some way.
Anxiety disorders of all types are very similar-even though someone having phobias or panic attacks alone may not think they relate right away to someone with OCD. They are exactly the same. The only difference is the result of that extreme fear. It is also very common for someone with any type of depression, anxiety disorder, or related illness to have more than one-since the same chemical imbalance causes them.
The only real difference between them, is that someone with claustrophobia alone may have a panic attack in an enclosed space or in a crowd. Someone with OCD may have a fear/phobia that is very similar, and as a result of that, they just develop a ritual to ease that feeling of anxiety. For instance, I have a fear of getting to the cash register at a store, and not having the means to pay for my items. Stupid fear, I know, but it is what it is, and that means the ritual I developed is to check my purse for my cash/checkbook/debit card before I leave the house, again in the parking lot of the place, and again in the store before I check out. I have done this since I was a teen. That is how a "checking" ritual gets started. You simply don't trust yourself enough that you checked right the first time. It is the same as a tv protrayal of someone with OCD checking to see that they locked their door 17 times.
I have a great sense of humor about it, though, and I laughed my tail off when I watched "As Good As It Gets" and "Monk" because I can totally relate-especially to Monk.
I have learned little things to do to "ease" some of my stress, and cut down on some of my rituals. One of those things was to buy my clothes hangers in all the same color/style. I used to "sort" them in the laundry area by color-and now, since they are all white, I can't do that any longer-and it is no longer a trigger for me. It is a tiny thing, but that is 1-2 minutes out of my life each day that I get back. It is all of the little coping mechanisms that help you through the day.
I am glad that there are so many here with similar issues to talk with about these sorts of things. It is nice to know that someone understands.