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Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a prevalent and highly disabling condition, characterized by a range of phenotypic expressions, potentially associated with geo-cultural differences. This article aims to provide an overview of the published studies by the International College of Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders, in relation to the Snapshot database which has, over the past 10 years, gathered clinical naturalistic data from over 500 patients with OCD attending various research centers/clinics worldwide. This collaborative effort has provided a multi-cultural worldwide perspective of different socio-demographic and clinical features of patients with OCD. Data on age, gender, smoking habits, age at onset, duration of illness, comorbidity, suicidal behaviors, and pharmacological treatment strategies are presented here, showing peculiar differences across countries.
Deepak Cyril D'Souza, Staff Psychiatrist, VA Connecticut Healthcare System; Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine,David Castle, University of Tasmania, Australia,Sir Robin Murray, Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, Psychosis Service at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust; Professor of Psychiatric Research at the Institute of Psychiatry
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders; however, first-line treatments are often associated with low rates of response and intolerable side-effects, leading many individuals to search for alternative treatments. Cannabis has become legalized for both recreational and/or medical use in several countries. Although many patients with anxiety disorders report using cannabis to treat their anxiety symptoms, the current research does not provide strong evidence to support this. This chapter reviews the current literature on cannabinoids in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
Bipolar disorder (BD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are prevalent, comorbid, and disabling conditions, often characterized by early onset and chronic course. When comorbid, OCD and BD can determine a more pernicious course of illness, posing therapeutic challenges for clinicians. Available reports on prevalence and clinical characteristics of comorbidity between BD and OCD showed mixed results, likely depending on the primary diagnosis of analyzed samples.
We assessed prevalence and clinical characteristics of BD comorbidity in a large international sample of patients with primary OCD (n = 401), through the International College of Obsessive–Compulsive Spectrum Disorders (ICOCS) snapshot database, by comparing OCD subjects with vs without BD comorbidity.
Among primary OCD patients, 6.2% showed comorbidity with BD. OCD patients with vs without BD comorbidity more frequently had a previous hospitalization (p < 0.001) and current augmentation therapies (p < 0.001). They also showed greater severity of OCD (p < 0.001), as measured by the Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS).
These findings from a large international sample indicate that approximately 1 out of 16 patients with primary OCD may additionally have BD comorbidity along with other specific clinical characteristics, including more frequent previous hospitalizations, more complex therapeutic regimens, and a greater severity of OCD. Prospective international studies are needed to confirm our findings.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is associated with variable risk of suicide and prevalence of suicide attempt (SA). The present study aimed to assess the prevalence of SA and associated sociodemographic and clinical features in a large international sample of OCD patients.
A total of 425 OCD outpatients, recruited through the International College of Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders (ICOCS) network, were assessed and categorized in groups with or without a history of SA, and their sociodemographic and clinical features compared through Pearson’s chi-squared and t tests. Logistic regression was performed to assess the impact of the collected data on the SA variable.
14.6% of our sample reported at least one SA during their lifetime. Patients with an SA had significantly higher rates of comorbid psychiatric disorders (60 vs. 17%, p<0.001; particularly tic disorder), medical disorders (51 vs. 15%, p<0.001), and previous hospitalizations (62 vs. 11%, p<0.001) than patients with no history of SA. With respect to geographical differences, European and South African patients showed significantly higher rates of SA history (40 and 39%, respectively) compared to North American and Middle-Eastern individuals (13 and 8%, respectively) (χ2=11.4, p<0.001). The logistic regression did not show any statistically significant predictor of SA among selected independent variables.
Our international study found a history of SA prevalence of ~15% in OCD patients, with higher rates of psychiatric and medical comorbidities and previous hospitalizations in patients with a previous SA. Along with potential geographical influences, the presence of the abovementioned features should recommend additional caution in the assessment of suicide risk in OCD patients.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) showed a lower prevalence of cigarette smoking compared to other psychiatric disorders in previous and recent reports. We assessed the prevalence and clinical correlates of the phenomenon in an international sample of 504 OCD patients recruited through the International College of Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders (ICOCS) network.
Cigarette smoking showed a cross-sectional prevalence of 24.4% in the sample, with significant differences across countries. Females were more represented among smoking patients (16% vs 7%; p<.001). Patients with comorbid Tourette’s syndrome (p<.05) and tic disorder (p<.05) were also more represented among smoking subjects. Former smokers reported a higher number of suicide attempts (p<.05).
We found a lower cross-sectional prevalence of smoking among OCD patients compared to findings from previous studies in patients with other psychiatric disorders but higher compared to previous and more recent OCD studies. Geographic differences were found and smoking was more common in females and comorbid Tourette’s syndrome/tic disorder.
Social phobia is a common psychiatric disorder that is often associated with significant psychiatric comorbidity and disability. In the past, clinicians have underutilized pharmacotherapy as a treatment option for this disorder. This article provides a review of current pharmacotherapeutic options for social phobia, including a review of the results to date of numerous controlled trials, a description of the recent results of open trials of new and promising agents, and a summary of the information available on the use of pharmacotherapy in the treatment of children and adolescents.
Over the last 25 years, there has been a rapid expansion of our knowledge base of social phobia (SP). Although there are a number of well-validated treatment modalities, including pharmacotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy, significant gaps remain in our ability to achieve full remission in most patients. Despite advances in the neurobiology of SP, the etiology has yet to be determined. Investigations examining potential predictors of response have provided little guidance in selecting an appropriate treatment modality. These gaps in our knowledge have pushed us to examine issues related to treatment resistance. This paper presents a review of the current literature and issues related to treatment-resistant SP, including a discussion of the functional impairment associated with SP, definitions of treatment response and remission, as well as outcome measures that have been used in clinical investigations of SP. In addition, criteria for a standard treatment trial, predictors of treatment response, a review of treatment resistance studies, and potential directions for future research are examined. The most promising strategies to attain remission, will likely involve augmenting selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors with agents such as anticonvulsants, benzodiazepines, and antipsychotics as well as combining pharmacotherapy with cognitive-behavioral therapy. Our current treatment target of simply attaining a response needs to be refocused, so that an asymptomatic state and high end state functioning become the final goal of treatment.
What is the best approach for treating patients with social phobia (social anxiety disorder) over the long term? Social phobia is the most common anxiety disorder, with reported prevalence rates of up to 18.7%. Social phobia is characterized by a marked and persistent fear of being observed or evaluated by others in social performance or interaction situations and is associated with physical, cognitive, and behavioral (ie, avoidance) symptoms. The onset of social phobia typically occurs in childhood or adolescence and the clinical course, if left untreated, is usually chronic, unremitting, and associated with significant functional impairment. Social phobia exhibits a high degree of comorbidity with other psychiatric disorders, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse/dependence. Few people with social phobia seek professional help despite the existence of beneficial treatment approaches. The efficacy, tolerability, and safety of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), evidenced in randomized clinical trials, support these agents as first-line treatment. The benzodiazepine clonazepam and certain monoamine oxidase inhibitors (representing both reversible and nonreversible inhibitors) may also be of benefit. Treatment of social phobia may need to be continued for several months to consolidate response and achieve full remission. The SSRIs have shown benefit in longterm treatment trials, while long-term treatment data from clinical studies of clonazepam are limited but support the drug's efficacy. There is also evidence for the effectiveness of exposure-based strategies of cognitive-behavioral therapy, and controlled studies suggest that the effects of treatment are generally maintained at long-term follow-up. In light of the chronicity and disability associated with social phobia, as well as the high relapse rate after short-term therapy, it is recommended that effective treatment be continued for at least 12 months.
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