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J Affect Disord. 2011 Dec;135(1-3):201-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2011.07.018. Epub 2011 Sep 1.

The impact of depression on the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder: results from a 5-year follow-up.

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Department of Psychiatry and Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU-University Medical Center and Academic Outpatient Clinic for Anxiety Disorders, GGZ InGeest, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Many OCD patients present with comorbid conditions, and major depression is one of the most frequent comorbidities observed. OCD patients with comorbid depression exhibit functional disability and poor quality of life. However, it is unclear whether depressive symptoms are predictive of treatment response, and debate remains whether they should be targeted in the treatment of comorbid patients. The current study aimed at assessing the predictive value of depression and OCD symptoms in the long term outcome of OCD treatment.


In the current study, relations between OCD and depressive symptoms were systematically investigated in a group of 121 OCD patients who received 16 sessions of behavior or cognitive therapy either alone or with fluvoxamine.


Depression (either as a continuous or categorical variable) was not predictive of treatment response in any of the treatment modalities for up to 5 years of follow-up. Changes in OCD symptoms largely predicted changes in depressive symptoms but not vice versa.


Subsequent to participation in the RCT, almost two-thirds of the participants received some form of additional treatment (either pharmacological or psychological), and as a result, it is impossible to determine interaction effects with additional treatment received after the trial.


Treatment of OCD with comorbid depression should focus on amelioration of OCD symptoms. When OCD treatment is successful, depressive symptoms are likely to ameliorate as well.

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