Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a proven and effective treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Studies have found that many OCD patients see a marked improvement in their symptoms after completing a Cognitive-behavioral therapy program. A new study has found, however, that a specific subset of OCD sufferers may not respond as well to CBT.
Most Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Responds to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The study, conducted by researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark, followed 269 children between the ages of 7 and 17 who had been diagnosed with OCD. All of the participants received a 14-week course of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Those participants who still exhibited OCD symptoms after the 14 weeks were treated either with more CBT or with antidepressant medications (SSRIs). All participants were evaluated after 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years.
After three years, the study found that most of the participants had seen significant improvement in their OCD symptoms.
“Part of the overall picture is that almost eighty percent of those we studied were so well-functioning following the cognitive behavioral therapy that after three years they no longer had OCD to a degree that required treatment,” says Per Hove Thomsen, the study’s lead investigator.
An Unusual Exception
One of the study’s results stood out, however. Among the 59 participants who seemed in danger of an OCD relapse after three years, a significant number exhibited a specific kind of symptom. They suffered from the “contamination and washing variant” of OCD, and they were limited in their insight into their condition. That is, they are compelled to act out behaviors revolving around cleanliness, and they are not especially aware of how the behaviors affected them.