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Keywords:

  • bipolar disorder;
  • comorbidity;
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder;
  • treatment

Objective:  To assess the clinical characteristics and the optimal treatment of obsessive compulsive symptoms in patients with familial background, current or past symptoms consistent with a bipolar spectrum diagnosis.

Methods:  Longitudinal clinical observation of seven cases with obsessive-compulsive-bipolar comorbidity.

Results:  In the cases presented that met the DSM-IV-TR criteria for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), the concurrent symptoms and the clinical course pointed to a different principal diagnosis and suggested therapeutic strategies different from those currently recommended in OCD. Clear-cut onset of symptoms, high prevalence of mood disorders in relatives, revaluation of their history, switch into mania induced by antidepressants, and clinical follow-up suggested a hierarchical priority of bipolar diagnosis.

Conclusions:  The presence of the aforementioned atypical symptoms should alert the physician about the possibility of bipolar comorbidity in OCD patients. If the suspicion is confirmed, bipolar diagnosis should have priority, at least from a therapeutic point of view. The first choice in treatment should be with mood stabilizers or second generation antipsychotics. Mood stabilization should be achieved as a first objective.