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, 11 (1), 21-33

Symptom Dimensions and Subtypes of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Developmental Perspective


Symptom Dimensions and Subtypes of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Developmental Perspective

James F Leckman et al. Dialogues Clin Neurosci.


In the absence of definitive etiological markers for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD% obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptom dimensions may offer a fruitful point of orientation. These dimensions can be understood as defining potentially overlapping clinical features that may be continuous with "normal" worries first evident in childhood. Although the understanding of the dimensional structure of OC symptoms is still imperfect, a recent large-scale meta-analysis has confirmed the presence of at least four separa ble symptom dimensions in children, as well as adults, with OCD. A dimensional approach does not exclude other methods to parse OCD. Thus far, a pediatric age of onset, the presence of other family members with OCD, and the individual's "tic-related" status appear to be potentially useful categorical distinctions. Although the OC symptom dimensions appear to be valid for all ages, it is unlikely that the underlying genetic vulnerability factors and neurobiological substrates for each of these symptom dimensions are the same across the course of development.


Figure 1.
Figure 1.. Venn diagram of obsessive-compulsive subtypes. In addition to adult-onset obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), there appear to be several subtypes of early-onset OCD. These include cases with a personal or famiiy history of Tourette syndrome or a chronic tic disorder, as well as individuals without tics but with a strong family history of OCD. Other cases are sporadic, and some cases may reflect a postinfectious autoimmune disorder (pediatric autoimmune disorders associated with streptcoccal infections, PANDAS).

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