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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Correlates of comorbid anxiety and externalizing disorders in childhood obsessive compulsive disorder

  • Author(s): Langley, Audra K.
  • Lewin, Adam B.
  • Bergman, R. Lindsey
  • Lee, Joyce C.
  • Piacentini, John
  • et al.

The present study examines the influence of diagnostic comorbidity on the demographic, psychiatric, and functional status of youth with a primary diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Two hundred and fifteen children (ages 5–17) referred to a university-based OCD specialty clinic were compared based on DSM-IV diagnostic profile: OCD without comorbid anxiety or externalizing disorder, OCD plus anxiety disorder, and OCD plus externalizing disorder. No age or gender differences were found across groups. Higher OCD severity was found for the OCD + ANX group, while the OCD + EXT group reported greater functional impairment than the other two groups. Lower family cohesion was reported by the OCD + EXT group compared to the OCD group and the OCD + ANX group reported higher family conflict compared to the OCD + EXT group. The OCD + ANX group had significantly lower rates of tic disorders while rates of depressive disorders did not differ among the three groups. The presence of comorbid anxiety and externalizing psychopathology are associated with greater symptom severity and functional and family impairment and underscores the importance of a better understanding of the relationship of OCD characteristics and associated disorders. Results and clinical implications are further discussed.

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