Use of benzodiazepines in obsessive-compulsive disorder

Vladan Starcevic*, David Berle, Maria Conceicao do Rosario, Vlasios Brakoulias, Ygor A. Ferrao, Kirupamani Viswasam, Roseli Shavitt, Euripedes Miguel, Leonardo F. Fontenelle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to determine the frequency of benzodiazepine (BDZ) use in a large sample of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and ascertain the type of BDZ used and the correlates and predictors of BDZ use in OCD. The sample consisted of 955 patients with OCD from a comprehensive, cross-sectional, multicentre study conducted by the Brazilian Research Consortium on Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders between 2003 and 2009. The rate of BDZ use over time in this OCD sample was 38.4%. Of individuals taking BDZs, 96.7% used them in combination with other medications, usually serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The most commonly used BDZ was clonazepam. Current age, current level of anxiety and number of additional medications for OCD taken over time significantly predicted BDZ use. This is the first study to comprehensively examine BDZ use in OCD patients, demonstrating that it is relatively common, despite recommendations from treatment guidelines. Use of BDZs in combination with several other medications over time and in patients with marked anxiety suggests that OCD patients taking BDZs may be more complex and more difficult to manage. This calls for further research and clarification of the role of BDZs in the treatment of OCD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • anxiety
  • benzodiazepines
  • clonazepam
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • treatment guidelines


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