Paid content provided by Columbia University Medical Center


Adult and Child OCD Research Programs
Dr. Blair Simpson and Dr. Moira Rynn

The Columbia University Adult and Child OCD Research Programs are dedicated to the mission of improving the lives of children, teens and adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) by conducting cutting-edge research to transform how we understand and treat OCD. In this Ask The Expert episode, program directors Dr. Blair Simpson and Dr. Moira Rynn discuss the characteristics of OCD, existing treatments and new medications being researched to treat OCD. The Adult and Child OCD Research Programs provide confidential phone screens, comprehensive evaluations, and treatment with medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – all at no cost. If you or someone you know is suffering from OCD, get help now.

Visit or CALL 646-774-5793.


What is OCD?

Dr. Blair Simpson – OCD is an illness that is characterized by intrusive, repetitive thoughts, images or urges called “obsessions”, and repetitive acts that people feel driven to perform over and over again called “compulsions”. Some people have terrible fears about contamination and are washing all day long. Others may have concerns about order and organization or things being just right. And finally, there are some people who are crippled by intrusive violent, sexual or religious thoughts.

How early can you notice signs of OCD?

Dr. Blair Simpson – Half of the cases start by age 19, with a quarter starting by age 14. OCD symptoms can be seen in children as young as 3 years old. Unfortunately, the symptoms often go unrecognized or untreated at that early age and so it’s not unusual for me to see adult who have never gotten any treatment for their OCD and have suffered for over a decade.

What should parents do if they think their child might have OCD?

Dr. Moira Rynn – If a parent is concerned that they’re seeing a behavior that the child is repeating to a point that’s worrying them or it seems to be interfering with the child’s daily activities, I always recommend parents to first talk to their pediatrician.

Is there a common cause for OCD?

Dr. Blair Simpson – We know that OCD runs in families, and in some there seem to be a genetic risk. We also know that people with OCD have abnormalities in specific areas of their brains. But what we don’t know is how those brain abnormalities lead to people’s specific symptoms, and we also don’t know why a particular individual got those brain abnormalities to begin with.

Are there treatments for OCD?

Dr. Moira Rynn – Yes, there are. There are two first line treatments – medication and a form of psychotherapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Both of these treatments are effective for children, adolescents and adults.

Are there other ways to treat OCD aside from medication?

Dr. Blair Simpson – There are two first line treatments for OCD, one is medication and the other is a very specific treatment called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It involves making a hierarchy of the situations that a person with OCD fears and then exposing yourself in very specific ways to those situations, while not doing your rituals.

What does an OCD patient, who’s currently taking medications, do if the medications aren’t working and they don’t want therapy?

Dr. Moira Rynn – There are two options. One option would be to try another medication or another antidepressant, or to add a medication to the present medication you’re on. Here at Columbia University, we’re currently studying the addition of the antibiotic “minocycline”, which is actually used to treat acne, as an additive medication to antidepressants to see if that would provide relief from OCD symptoms. There is also another novel medication called “ketamine”. It has shown to cause a rapid decrease in symptoms in adults with a severe form of OCD.

How can the Columbia University Medical Center help someone suffering from OCD?

Dr. Blair Simpson – At Columbia University Medical Center, we have all sorts of different studies across the life span. Some are offering cognitive-behavioral therapy, others are offering medications, and all of the evaluations and treatment are at no-cost to the patient. Please go to our website, or call us at 646-774-5793.

If you or someone you know is suffering from OCD, get help now.

Visit or CALL 646-774-5793.

Columbia University Medical Center – Improving the lives of individuals with OCD everyday