Clomipramine, clonazepam, and clonidine treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder

William A. Hewlett, Sophia Vinogradov, W. Stewart Agras

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113 Scopus citations


Serotonergic reuptake inhibitors have been the primary medications for treatment of obsessivecompulsive disorder (OCD); however, other serotonergic and α2-adrenergic medications also have been reported to reduce obsessive-compulsive symptoms. In this study, we compare three medications with reported efficacy in OCD to a control medication, diphenhydramine, a medication without theoretical or demonstrated treatment benefit. The three active medications were clomipramine, a serotonergic reuptake inhibitor; clonazepam, a benezodiazepine with putative serotonergic properties; and clonidine, an α2-adrenergic agonist. Twenty-eight subjects with DSM-III-R diagnosis of OCD rotated through 6-week trials of each of the four medications in a randomized, double-blind, multiple crossover protocol. Clomipramine and clonazepam were both effective relative to the control medication in reducing OCD symptoms. There was a significant cross-response between these two medications; however 40% of subjects failing clomipramine trials had a clinically significant response to clonazepam treatment. The control medication, diphenhydramine, itself produced a significant decrement in symptoms, whereas clonidine was ineffective in reducing OCD symptoms. Clonazepam improvement was unrelated to changes in anxiety and occurred early in treatment. Clonazepam was significantly more effective than the other medications during the first 3 weeks of treatment. The results confirm the efficacy of clomipramine in the treatment of OCD and suggest that clonazepam might be a useful alternative treatment for patients with this disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-430
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1992


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