A recent study in JAMA Psychiatry showed that for those with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) who failed to respond to front-line anti-depressant medication, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was a significantly more effective second, additive treatment option than anti-psychotic medication.

The study utilized a specific form of CBT called Exposure Therapy with Response Prevention, which is an empirically validated behavioral treatment for OCD. All participants in the study were non- or limited-responders to anti-depressant medication. All participants continued on their anti-depressant medication and then received ONE of the following: (1) anti-psychotic mediation, (2) CBT, or (3) sugar pill (placebo).

Approximately 80% of the participants in the CBT group improved, while improvements were only 23% with Risperidone (anti-psychotic medication) and 15% for placebo. Those taking Risperodone did not significantly improve more than those taking a sugar pill so symptom gains attributed to Risperodone were instead simply a placebo effect (i.e., people improved because they believed they would improve).

This is important information as anti-psychotic medications often have significant side-effects associated with long-term use; thus, patients may want instead consider CBT when faced with a failed or limited response to anti-depressant treatment for OCD.

Dr. Christopher Fisher offers Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy with Response Prevention for OCD. Please contact us for more information.