The impact of depression on the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder: Results from a 5-year follow-up

Gideon E. Anholt, Idan M. Aderka, Anton J.L.M. Van Balkom, Johannes H. Smit, Haggai Hermesh, Els De Haan, Patricia Van Oppen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Background: Many OCD patients present with comorbid conditions, and major depression is one of the most frequent comorbidities observed. OCD patients with comorbid depression exhibit functional disability and poor quality of life. However, it is unclear whether depressive symptoms are predictive of treatment response, and debate remains whether they should be targeted in the treatment of comorbid patients. The current study aimed at assessing the predictive value of depression and OCD symptoms in the long term outcome of OCD treatment. Methods: In the current study, relations between OCD and depressive symptoms were systematically investigated in a group of 121 OCD patients who received 16 sessions of behavior or cognitive therapy either alone or with fluvoxamine. Results: Depression (either as a continuous or categorical variable) was not predictive of treatment response in any of the treatment modalities for up to 5 years of follow-up. Changes in OCD symptoms largely predicted changes in depressive symptoms but not vice versa. Limitations: Subsequent to participation in the RCT, almost two-thirds of the participants received some form of additional treatment (either pharmacological or psychological), and as a result, it is impossible to determine interaction effects with additional treatment received after the trial. Conclusions: Treatment of OCD with comorbid depression should focus on amelioration of OCD symptoms. When OCD treatment is successful, depressive symptoms are likely to ameliorate as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-207
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2011


  • Depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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