Is obsessive-compulsive disorder an anxiety disorder?

Jennifer A. Bartz, Eric Hollander

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is classified as an anxiety disorder in the DSM-IV-TR [American Psychiatric Association, 2000. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, Fourth ed., rev. Washington, DC: Author]; however, the notion of a spectrum of obsessive-compulsive (OC) related disorders that is comprised of such disparate disorders as OCD, body dysmorphic disorder, certain eating disorders, pathological gambling, and autism, is gaining acceptance. The fact that these disorders share obsessive-compulsive features and evidence similarities in patient characteristics, course, comorbidity, neurobiology, and treatment response raises the question of whether OCD is best conceptualized as an anxiety or an OC spectrum disorder. This article reviews evidence from comorbidity and family studies, as well as biological evidence related to neurocircuitry, neurotransmitter function, and pharmacologic treatment response that bear on this question. The implications of removing OCD from the anxiety disorders category and moving it to an OC spectrum disorders category, as is being proposed for the DSM-V, is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-352
Number of pages15
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Anxiety disorder
  • Nosology
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive spectrum


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