Major depressive disorder is a common co-occurring condition with OCD; based on research at the time of the study, 30% of OCD patients also suffered from symptoms of depression. Cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT)—especially exposure and response prevention (ERP)—have proven to be effective for treating OCD symptoms. However, there was a gap in our understanding of how these treatments can aid people with OCD and comorbid depression.
In this study, Dr. Abramowitz and his team developed a CBT program over the course of 6 months for individuals with OCD and severe comorbid depression, by including elements of ERP and behavioral activation (a therapy used to promote positive behaviors through reward, pleasure, and mastery). The team hypothesized that focusing on depression symptoms early in treatment would reduce obsessive and compulsive symptoms. A sample of 25 patients received this treatment course over 3 years, and the results showed that this new intervention reduced both OCD and depressive symptoms.
Abramowitz, J. S. (2004). Treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder in patients who have comorbid major depression. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 60(11), 1133–1141. doi:10.1002/jclp.20078