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Antiserotonergic antipsychotics are associated with obsessive–compulsive symptoms in schizophrenia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2011

F. Schirmbeck
Central Institute of Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Mannheim, Germany
C. Esslinger
Central Institute of Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Mannheim, Germany
F. Rausch
Central Institute of Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Mannheim, Germany
S. Englisch
Central Institute of Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Mannheim, Germany
A. Meyer-Lindenberg
Central Institute of Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Mannheim, Germany
M. Zink*
Central Institute of Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Mannheim, Germany
*Address for correspondence: M. Zink, M.D., Central Institute of Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, PO Box 12 21 20, D-68072 Mannheim, Germany. (Email:



Epidemiological investigations show that up to 30% of schizophrenic patients suffer from obsessive–compulsive symptoms (OCS) associated with negative impact on the general prognosis. It has been proposed that antiserotonergic second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) might induce OCS, but investigations of large samples integrating psychopathology, neuropsychology and psychopharmacology are missing.


We stratified 70 patients with schizophrenia according to their mode of antipsychotic treatment: clozapine and olanzapine (group I) compared with aripiprazole and amisulpride (group II). The groups were matched according to age, sex, educational levels and severity of the psychotic disorder (Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale). As the primary endpoint, we evaluated OCS severity (Yale–Brown Obsessive–Compulsive Scale).


OCS were significantly more prevalent and severe in group I, in which OCS severity correlated with dosage of clozapine and duration of treatment. Pronounced cognitive deficits in group I were found in visuospatial perception and visual memory (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised block design, Rey–Osterrieth Complex Figure Test), impulse inhibition (go/no-go test), higher perseveration scores (Wisconsin Card Sorting Test) and reduced set-shift abilities (Trail Making Test Part B, Set-shift Task). These cognitive domains correlated with OCS severity.


OCS in schizophrenia are associated with antiserotonergic SGA treatment, but longitudinal studies have to prove causality. Before starting treatment with antiserotonergic SGAs, specific neurocognitive domains should be evaluated, as visuospatial learning and impulse inhibition performance might allow early detection of OCS secondary to antipsychotic treatment in schizophrenia.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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