Send to

Choose Destination
J Pharm Pract. 2014 Apr;27(2):116-30. doi: 10.1177/0897190014521996. Epub 2014 Feb 27.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Author information

Staff Psychiatrist, Taunton State Hospital, Taunton, MA, USA.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common heterogeneous psychiatric disorder manifesting with obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are intrusive, recurrent, and persistent unwanted thoughts. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that an individual feels driven to perform in response to the obsessions. The heterogeneity of OCD includes themes of obsessions, types of rituals, presence or absence of tics, etiology, genetics, and response to pharmacotherapy. Complications of OCD include interpersonal difficulties, unemployment, substance abuse, criminal justice issues, and physical injuries. Areas of the brain involved in the pathophysiology include the orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate gyrus, and basal ganglia. Overall, OCD may be due to a malfunction in the cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical circuit in the brain. Neurotransmitters implicated in OCD include serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate. Numerous drugs such as atypical antipsychotics and dopaminergic agents can cause or exacerbate OCD symptoms. The etiology includes genetics and neurological insults. Treatment of OCD includes psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, transcranial magnetic simulation, and in extreme cases surgery. Exposure and response prevention is the most effective form of psychotherapy. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the preferred pharmacotherapy. Higher doses than listed in the package insert and a longer trial are often needed for SSRIs than compared to other psychiatric disorders. Alternatives to SSRIs include clomipramine and serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. Treatment of resistant cases includes augmentation with atypical antipsychotics, pindolol, buspirone, and glutamate-blocking agents.


exposure and response prevention; obsessive–compulsive disorder; psychiatry; psychopharmacology; serotonin reuptake inhibitors

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center