Do antipsychotics ameliorate or exacerbate Obsessive Compulsive Disorder symptoms? A systematic review

Jitender Sareen, Alla Kirshner, Mark Lander, Kevin D Kjernisted, Michael K Eleff, Jeffrey P Reiss
Journal of Affective Disorders 2004 October 15, 82 (2): 167-74

BACKGROUND: Paradoxically, some reports in the literature support the use of antipsychotics in the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), while other reports suggest that antipsychotics can exacerbate OCD symptoms. To date, there is no published systematic review of the relationship between OCD symptoms and antipsychotic drugs.

METHODS: A Medline and PsychInfo search (1980-2003) was conducted to collect published reports of the interactions between antipsychotics and OCD symptoms.

RESULTS: In the treatment of refractory OCD, case series, open label trials and placebo-controlled trials were found suggesting efficacy of antipsychotic augmentation to ongoing antidepressant treatment. In the placebo-controlled trials with haloperidol, risperidone, olanzapine, and quetiapine, a significantly higher response rate (46-71%) was found for the antipsychotic groups, compared to no response for the placebo groups. Reports of exacerbation of OCD symptoms with the use of atypical antipsychotics were limited to individuals with a primary psychotic disorder.

LIMITATIONS: Definition of response in most of these treatment studies was based on a modest reduction of OCD symptoms, and no studies were available on long-term efficacy. There were also no published reports that systematically evaluated the incidence of OCD symptoms associated with atypical antipsychotics.

CONCLUSIONS: All antipsychotics mentioned above had short-term controlled evidence to support their use as augmenting agents in the treatment of refractory OCD. The suggested management of OCD induction/exacerbation due to atypical antipsychotics is to increase the dose of the atypical antipsychotic and/or add a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.


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