NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – People suffering with
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) who do not respond
adequately to antidepressant therapy may benefit from the
addition of an antipsychotic agent, results of a study hint.
While antidepressants are commonly used to treat OCD,
approximately half of patients do not respond to these drugs
when used alone, study investigators explain in a report in the
Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
Dr. Xiaohua Li, from the University of Alabama at
Birmingham, and associates tested whether adding an
antipsychotic might help these non-responders.
They had 12 patients with severe OCD on “stable-dose”
antidepressant therapy add risperidone (1 milligram daily),
haloperidol (2 milligrams daily) or placebo for 2 weeks each in
a crossover fashion, with a 2-week placebo washout period
Li and colleagues report that both antipsychotics led to a
rapid and significant reduction in OCD behavior compared with
Considering that the patients had severe lingering OCD
symptoms during antidepressant treatment only, “a significant
reduction in obsession within 2 weeks of treatment initiation
with each drug is notable,” the authors comment.
Both drugs also significantly reduced anxiety among the
patients and risperidone, but not haloperidol, also improved
depressed mood and enhanced overall well-being, the authors
Five subjects discontinued haloperidol before the 2-week
phase was complete due to side effects such as lethargy
(sluggishness) or dystonia (prolonged, repetitive muscle
contractions), whereas all of the participants completed the
This study, say the authors, suggests that adding an
antipsychotic to an antidepressant may be of benefit in OCD
patients who do not respond to antidepressant therapy alone.
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Psychiatry June 2005.