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J Affect Disord. 2004 Apr;79(1-3):241-6.

Phenomenological and comorbid features associated in obsessive-compulsive disorder: influence of age of onset.

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  • 1University Department of Psychiatry, Guillaume Regnier Hospital, 108 avenue du Général Leclerc, BP 226, Rennes, Cedex 35 011, France.



To explore clinical features of symptoms and comorbidity according to the age of onset of patients suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).


The survey involved collecting data from both patient members of an OCD association, and a sample of 175 OCD patients seen in OCD specialty practice. All the patients (n=617) responded to a questionnaire on family and personal psychiatric OCD history, phenomenological features of OCD and comorbidity. They were classified according to OCD age at onset [group early age of onset (EO): under 15, group late age of onset (LO): older than 15].


A higher percentage of patients from Group LO complained of OCD triggering by factors such as professional difficulties and childbirth (P<0.05); also they more often had (P=0.05) a sudden onset of symptoms. On the other hand, clinical features, such as superstition and magic thoughts, parasite obsessions and repeating, counting, hoarding, tapping/rubbing and collecting compulsions were significantly more frequent (P<0.05) in EO; likewise, history of tics was more frequent in this group. The existence of comorbid depression (at least one episode) did not show any significant difference between groups. However, depression preceding OCD was more frequent in LO. There was no significant difference in treatment response according to age of onset OCD.


The results showed a clear association of EO with obsessions of superstition and parasites, repetitive compulsions and motor and vocal tics, whereas a sudden onset, triggering factors and a more frequent depression preceding OCD characterized LO.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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