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Managing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in adults

Date: 16 June 2016

Results of an NIHR HTA-funded study looking at the effectiveness of interventions for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have just published in Lancet Psychiatry, with a full account of the research published in Health Technology Assessment

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that causes people to react to obsessions or compulsions. Obsessions are repetitive thoughts that result in fear, like a fear of germs. Compulsions result in repetitive actions such has hand washing. 

OCD is the fourth most common mental disorder in the developed world and has a severe impact on quality of life.  There are many treatments available that include not only drugs, but also psychotherapies; behavioural and cognitive interventions.

Researchers, led by Dr Petros Skapinakis of University College London reviewed the existing literature to determine which pharmacological and psychotherapeutic interventions are the most effective. 

They found that medications (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and clomipramine) are equally effective with one type not being better than another. Certain psychotherapies were more effective than medication, but most of the patients were also taking stable doses of antidepressant medications before entering the reviewed studies. 

“Overall, using psychotherapies and medication together seems to be the best option” explains Dr Skapinakis, “at least for those with severe OCD. Such combination therapy is initially more expensive, but we believe that it is potentially more cost-effective for the NHS.”

Read the article or read the full report in Health Technology Assessment.