Is there a role for lifestyle interventions in obsessive-compulsive and related disorders?

Leonardo F. Fontenelle, Maiara Zeni-Graiff, Julliana N. Quintas, Murat Yücel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review


Many of the currently available treatments for obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (OCRDs) such as pharmacotherapy augmentation strategies, partial hospitalization programs, deep brain stimulation, and neurosurgery are efficacious for individuals suffering from more severe forms of these conditions. Unfortunately, the application of these treatments in milder forms of illness and subclinical samples, which affect a substantial portion of the population, is not justifiable by their costs (e.g. cognitivebehavioral therapy) and/or potential for side effects (serotonin-reuptake inhibitors associated sexual side effects). As such, there is an urgent need to develop simple yet effective treatments, such as modifiable lifestyle interventions, that can be employed on a broader scale. Here, we review the current state of evidence that supports or refutes the efficacy of lifestyle approaches for OCRDs. We focus on dimensions of lifestyle that are deemed important for cardiovascular diseases; namely, physical activity, stress, sleep, diet and eating behaviors, alcohol consumption, and smoking. Despite the relative scarcity of welldesigned randomized controlled trials targeting unhealthy life styles in OCRDs, we found meditation-based therapies and interventions focusing on eliminating sedentarism to be promising approaches. In the future, these strategies may represent valid alternative for subjects with subthreshold symptoms or at risk for OCRDs or other “compulsive” disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5698-5711
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number41
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Alcohol use
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle
  • Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders
  • Physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Stress

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