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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Plus Medication Gives Pediatric OCD a One-Two Punch
by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

Children and teens with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) often benefit from medications. In those who do, adding cognitive behavior therapy can bring about a significantly greater reduction in OCD symptoms.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects as many as 1 in 50 people, and symptoms often arise in childhood. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine designed 12-week study* to determine the effects of various treatment methods on reducing OCD symptoms in children and teens. Their study included 123 youngsters between the ages of seven and 17 who had been diagnosed with OCD.

The researchers found that nearly 70 percent of the participants who received medication plus cognitive behavior therapy experienced at least a 30 percent reduction in OCD symptoms. In contrast, less than a third of the youngsters who received medical management only experienced at least a 30 percent reduction in their symptoms.

For children with OCD, treatment with medication is almost always helpful, but adding cognitive behavioral therapy can help even more.

*M. E. Franklin, J. Sapyta, J. B. Freeman, M. Khanna, S. Compton, D. Almirall, P. Moore, M. Choate-Summers, A. Garcia, A. L. Edson, E. B. Foa, J. S. March. Cognitive Behavior Therapy Augmentation of Pharmacotherapy in Pediatric Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: The Pediatric OCD Treatment Study II (POTS II) Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011; 306 (11): 1224 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2011.1344

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