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CNS Spectr. 2008 Sep;13(9 Suppl 14):37-46.

The medical treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Göttingen, Germany.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are first-line pharmacotherapy treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Clomipramine is effective in OCD but associated with more adverse events. Typically, higher doses of antidepressants are required for OCD. Up to 50% of patients do not respond to initial treatment of OCD. Treatment options for nonresponders include augmentation of antidepressants with atypical antipsychotics, among other strategies. First-line treatments for anxiety disorders include SSRIs, serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and pregabalin. Tricyclic antidepressants are equally effective as SSRIs, but are less well tolerated. In treatment-resistant cases, benzodiazepines may be used when the patient does not have a history of dependency and tolerance. Other treatment options include irreversible and reversible monoamine oxidase inhibitors, the atypical antipsychotic quetiapine, and other medications. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been sufficiently investigated in controlled studies of OCD and anxiety disorders and is recommended alone or in combination with the above medications.

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