WCA Recommendations for the Long-Term Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Adults

John H. Greist, Borwin Bandelow, Eric Hollander, Donatella Marazziti, Stuart A. Montgomery, David J. Nutt, Ahmed Okasha, Richard P. Swinson, Joseph Zohar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


What are the latest psychotherapeutic and pharmacotherapeutic treatment recommendations for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)? OCD is a relatively common disorder with a lifetime prevalence of ∼2% in the general population. It often has an early onset, usually in childhood or adolescence, and frequently becomes chronic and disabling if left untreated. High associated healthcare utilization and costs, and reduced productivity resulting in loss of earning, pose a huge economic burden to OCD patients and their families, employers, and society. OCD is characterized by the presence of obsessions and compulsions that are time-consuming, cause marked distress, or significantly interfere with a person's functioning. Most patients with OCD experience symptoms throughout their lives and benefit from long-term treatment. Both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy are recommended, either alone or in combination, for the treatment of OCD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the psychotherapy of choice. Pharmacologic treatment options include the tricyclic antidepressant clomipramine and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) citalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, and sertraline. These have all shown benefit in acute treatment trials; clomipramine, fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, and sertraline have also demonstrated benefit in long-term treatment trials (at least 24 weeks), and clomipramine, sertraline, and fluvoxamine have United States Food and Drug Administration approvals for use in children and adolescents. Available treatment guidelines recommend first-line use of an SSRI (ie, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, sertraline, or citalopram) in preference to clomipramine, due to the latter's less favorable adverse-event profile. Further, pharmacotherapy for a minimum of 1-2 years is recommended before very gradual withdrawal may be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages10
JournalCNS spectrums
Issue number8 SUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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