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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2009;11(1):21-33.

Symptom dimensions and subtypes of obsessive-compulsive disorder: a developmental perspective.

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Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, 230 South Frontage Road, New Haven, CT 06520-7900, USA.


In the absence of definitive etiological markers for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD% obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptom dimensions may offer a fruitful point of orientation. These dimensions can be understood as defining potentially overlapping clinical features that may be continuous with "normal" worries first evident in childhood. Although the understanding of the dimensional structure of OC symptoms is still imperfect, a recent large-scale meta-analysis has confirmed the presence of at least four separa ble symptom dimensions in children, as well as adults, with OCD. A dimensional approach does not exclude other methods to parse OCD. Thus far, a pediatric age of onset, the presence of other family members with OCD, and the individual's "tic-related" status appear to be potentially useful categorical distinctions. Although the OC symptom dimensions appear to be valid for all ages, it is unlikely that the underlying genetic vulnerability factors and neurobiological substrates for each of these symptom dimensions are the same across the course of development.

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