Cognitive therapy, drugs work in child OCD
United Press International - October 26, 2004

DURHAM, Va., Oct 26, 2004 -- A U.S. study finds children with obsessive-compulsive disorder do well when treated with cognitive behavioral therapy and the drug sertraline, or Zoloft.

Duke University Medical Center researchers in Durham, N.C., said children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder dwell on unwanted thoughts and perform repetitious actions, such as compulsive hand washing, as a way of relieving the anxiety of those thoughts.

The cognitive behavioral therapy used in the study is an OCD-specific psychotherapeutic treatment designed to create and reinforce new thought patterns and behaviors. The drug sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor commonly used in the treatment of depression.

"The results are so robust, decision makers at all levels of the health care system simply have no reason not to recommend cognitive behavioral therapy as the starting place for treatment of OCD in children and adolescents," said Dr. John March.

"Starting with medication has no clear benefit for the patient. Our research team feels very strongly that we now have conclusive evidence that cognitive behavioral therapy -- alone or in combination with medication -- works exceptionally well for this patient population."

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.