Escitalopram in obsessive-compulsive disorder: Response of symptom dimensions to pharmacotherapy

Dan J. Stein, Paul D. Carey, Christine Lochner, Soraya Seedat, Naomi Fineberg, Elisabeth Wreford Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Introduction: There is a substantial body of evidence that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms can be grouped into a series of discrete dimensions, and some evidence that not all OCD symptom dimensions respond equally well to pharmacologic or psychotherapeutic intervention. The response of OCD symptom dimensions to 12 weeks of treatment with escitalopram or placebo was investigated. Methods: Data from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of escitalopram in 466 adults with OCD were analyzed. Exploratory factor analysis of individual items of the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale checklist was performed and subscale scores based on the extracted factors were determined. Analyses of covariance were undertaken to determine whether inclusion of each subscale score in these models impacted on the efficacy of escitalopram versus placebo. Results: Exploratory factor analysis of individual Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale items yielded 5 factors (contamination/cleaning, harm/checking, hoarding/symmetry, religious/sexual, and somatic/hypochondriacal). Analyses of covariance including all the subscales demonstrated that escitalopram was more effective than placebo. There was a significant interaction for the hoarding/symmetry factor, which was associated with a poor treatment response. Conclusion: Escitalopram shows good efficacy across the range of OCD symptom dimensions. Nevertheless, hoarding/symmetry was associated with a poorer treatment response. Hoarding/symmetry may be particularly characteristic of an early-onset group of OCD patients, with the involvement of neurotransmitters other than serotonin. Further work is needed to delineate fully the subtypes of OCD, and their correlates with underlying psychobiology and treatment responsivity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalC N S Spectrums
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)492-498
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Clincal
  • Psychiatry
  • Serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • Factor-analyzed symptom
  • Clinical predictors
  • Citolapram
  • Plecebo
  • Clomipramine
  • Epedemiology
  • Depression
  • Efficacy
  • Scale


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