Mirtazapine for obsessive-compulsive disorder: an open trial followed by double-blind discontinuation

J Clin Psychiatry. 2005 Apr;66(4):515-20.

Abstract

Background: Many patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) experience little response to standard treatment with serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Mirtazapine enhances serotonergic function by a mechanism distinct from reuptake inhibition. Because a pilot study suggested effectiveness of mirtazapine in OCD, we conducted a controlled trial.

Method: We recruited 30 subjects, 15 treatmentnaive and 15 treatment-experienced, with DSM-IV OCD of > or =1 year's duration and a Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS) score of > or =20. In the 12-week, open-label phase, subjects received mirtazapine starting at 30 mg/day and titrated over 2 weeks as tolerated to 60 mg/day. At week 12, responders (YBOCS score decrease > 25%) were randomly assigned, double-blind, to continue mirtazapine or switch to placebo for 8 weeks, including a 1-week, double-blind taper week for placebo subjects.

Results: In the open-label phase, the mean +/-SD YBOCS score fell from 28.3 +/-3.7 to 20.3 +/-8.5 (paired samples t = 4.81, p < .0001). Four subjects (13.3%) discontinued for side effects. Sixteen subjects (53.3%) (8 treatmentnaive, 8 treatment-experienced) were responders and 15 agreed to randomization. Response was independent of comorbid mood disorders. In the 8-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled discontinuation phase, the mirtazapine group's mean YBOCS score fell a mean +/-SD of 2.6 +/-8.7 points while the placebo group's mean score rose a mean +/-SD of 9.1 +/-7.5 points (Mann Whitney U = 6.5, p = .005, 1-tailed). All other outcome measures were consistent with mirtazapine's superiority versus placebo.

Conclusion: Mirtazapine may be an effective pharmacotherapy for OCD. If our results are replicated, larger double-blind studies would be indicated.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / therapeutic use*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mianserin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Mianserin / therapeutic use*
  • Mirtazapine
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Treatment Outcome

Substances

  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
  • Mianserin
  • Mirtazapine