Efficacy of antidepressant medications in children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder: a systematic appraisal

J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2011 Oct;31(5):625-32. doi: 10.1097/JCP.0b013e31822bb1ff.


The aim of this article was to analyze systematically literature information published in English (between 1966 and January 2011) on the efficacy of antidepressants in pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder. Data were identified through different databases by using variously combined patterns of search terms. Searches provided 85 articles, excluding duplicates, but only articles reporting primary data on use of antidepressants in this specific disorder were reviewed. Fifty-nine articles were excluded because they did not report primary efficacy data or investigated patients with different psychiatric diagnosis. Twenty-five electronically recognized articles met the inclusion criteria. Two additional studies, available as congress communication, were identified by manually checking the references' list of electronically identified articles. Reviewed studies show several methodological biases (the lack/limited number of long-term trials and head-to-head comparisons and the inclusion of patients who continued different forms of psychotherapy), which make it difficult to individuate the best pharmacological strategy. Despite these limitations, evidence-based information suggests that clomipramine and sertraline, especially for long-term treatments, should be considered as first-choice agents for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder at onset during childhood or adolescence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Clomipramine / administration & dosage
  • Clomipramine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Research Design
  • Sertraline / administration & dosage
  • Sertraline / therapeutic use
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Clomipramine
  • Sertraline