Therapy, medication combination superior for children with obsessive-compulsive disorder

lone or in combination with an SSRI - because that is what gives patients the best chance to overcome OCD," said March. "OCD can be thought of as a 'brain hiccup' where an obsessive thought gets stuck and, as a result, the child feels compelled to perform certain actions to eliminate the thought and its accompanying bad feelings. Patients with OCD know that their thoughts and subsequent behaviors are irrational but they feel powerless to do anything about it. The great thing about CBT is it teaches a strategy called 'exposure and ritual prevention' that has been shown to give kids and adults control over the disease."

The team points out that all treatments were generally well-tolerated among the study participants and there was no evidence of harm-related events due to SSRI treatment.

OCD occurs in approximately one in 200 children, with onset typically occurring either between the ages of 6 and 9 years old or during the teen years. The lifetime prevalence of OCD for the entire population is between 2 and 3 percent, according to the researchers.

"Our study is consistent with several other studies in showing that SSRI treatment alone is helpful for many children and adolescents, but the vast majority remains with significant OCD symptoms," said Edna B. Foa, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania and co-principal investigator on the study. "This study converges with other studies in demonstrating that many children and adolescents with OCD really get on board with the CBT treatment and realize that the treatment is freeing them from a very difficult and distressing disorder. We must train more mental health professionals in becoming proficient in delivering CBT for pediatric OCD."

Currently, there are few providers who are well-trained in providing CBT, said Foa. The researchers believe insurance companies play a role in the problem by continu

Contact: Tracey Koepke
Duke University Medical Center

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