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Current management of obsessive and phobic states

Authors Goljevscek S, Carvalho LA

Published 30 September 2011 Volume 2011:7(1) Pages 599—610

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S17032

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2


Serena Goljevscek1, Livia A Carvalho2
1Psychiatric Clinic, University of Udine, Udine, Italy; 2Health Science Research Centre, Department of Life Sciences, Roehampton University, London, UK

Abstract: Obsessional states show an average point prevalence of 1%–3% and a lifetime prevalence of 2%–2.5%. Most treatment-seeking patients with obsessions continue to experience significant symptoms after 2 years of prospective follow-up. A significant burden of impairment, distress, and comorbidity characterize the course of the illness, leading to an increased need for a better understanding of the nature and management of this condition. This review aims to give a representation of the current pharmacological and psychotherapeutic strategies used in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Antidepressants (clomipramine and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are generally the first-line choice used to handle obsessional states, showing good response rates and long-term positive outcomes. About 40% of patients fail to respond to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. So far, additional pharmacological treatment strategies have been shown to be effective, ie, administration of high doses of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, as well as combinations of different drugs, such as dopamine antagonists, are considered efficacious and well tolerated strategies in terms of symptom remission and side effects. Psychotherapy also plays an important role in the management of obsessive-compulsive disorder, being effective for a wide range of symptoms, and many studies have assessed its long-term efficacy, especially when added to appropriate pharmacotherapy. In this paper, we also give a description of the clinical and psychological features likely to characterize patients refractory to treatment for this illness, with the aim of highlighting the need for greater attention to more patient-oriented management of the disease.

Keywords: obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobic disorder, treatment

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