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South Med J. 1994 Mar;87(3):310-21.

Pharmacologic management of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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  • 1Department of Hospital Pharmacy Practice and Administration, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an intriguing, difficult problem characterized by anxiety-producing intrusive thoughts and performance of anxiety-reducing rituals. Current evidence suggests that OCD may be associated with dysregulation of serotonin and dopamine neurotransmission. Numerous early studies involving the serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor clomipramine led to the formulation of this hypothesis. Positive results with clomipramine initiated further research with other serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors, such as fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline, and serotonergic agents such as buspirone and trazodone. Findings from a number of clinical trials suggest that drugs that inhibit serotonin reuptake or affect serotonergic transmission in other ways are of clear benefit in the treatment of OCD. These drugs may be more effective for obsessive thoughts than for compulsive rituals. Effective pharmacotherapy can dramatically decrease obsessive-compulsive symptoms and improve the patient's quality of life.

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