Punctuating OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorder responds to Abilify

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Left untreated, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), can be as infuriating as it is incessant. Yet, some cases of the condition don't respond to conventional treatment with antidepressant medications.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may require a different approach to managing OCD.

A new study has suggested that Abilify (aripiprazole), when taken in conjunction with SSRIs or Anafranil (clomipramine), can treat OCD effectively. OCD causes patients to obsess about details and become compulsive in some of their behaviors.

"Mention any compulsive behaviors to your psychiatrist."

Researchers at the University of Rome conducted this study to determine whether or not Abilify, when taken along with an SSRI or Anafranil, could be effective in patients whose OCD is resistant to treatment with SSRIs alone.

All participants had a diagnosis of OCD and a history of resistance to standard treatment.

Abilify was added to an SSRI or Anafranil treatment starting at 5 mg a day and increasing to a maximum of 20 mg per day. Assessment was made based upon a patient-completed OCD severity questionnaire and a clinician-completed overall impairment scale.

Patients were examined using the rating scales prior to this study and at week 12. Side effects were also measured using a clinicians' rating scale.

All 20 study participants completed the course of treatment. A significant improvement in symptoms was observed.

The medication Abilify was generally well tolerated and caused no change in observed vital signs. Common side effects included:

  • Akathesia, a feeling of tingling in the skin and constant urge to move
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Hyperkinesia, an increase in muscular activity that can result in irregular movements
  • Tensions/inner unrest
  • Tremors
  • Loss of strength
  • Weariness
  • Increased fatigue

This study suggests that Abilify is "effective and well tolerated" as a complementary treatment for OCD when taken with an SSRI or Anafranil.

Monthly cost for Abilify ranges from $500 to $700.

However, the researchers note this study is preliminary and requires further confirmation in a randomized, controlled setting. 

This study was published electronically in the journal Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 1, 2012
Last Updated:
July 10, 2013