Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is one of the newest treatment strategies that has been developed rapidly to improve the treatment of patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). The aim of this study was to evaluate and compare the effect of ACT and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) drugs on the severity of depression symptoms and quality of life (QOL) in obsessive–compulsive patients.
A randomized clinical trial with a control group was conducted including 27 patients with OCD. Based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders‑5 criteria for OCD diagnosis, participants were recruited from Tamasha Counseling Center and obsessive–compulsive clinic in the Psychosomatic Research Center in Isfahan, Iran. Selected patients were allocated to two groups (14 in ACT the group and 13 in the drug group with SSRI with a simple random sampling method. ACT group was treated by an ACT therapist in eight 1‑h sessions. Data were collected by the World Health Organization QOL Questionnaire (WHOQOL‑BREF) and Depression subscale of DASS‑42 at admission, after the intervention, and 3 months thereafter. Therapists and evaluators were blind to each other’s work. Data were analyzed using analysis of variance with repeated measures method using IBM SPSS Statistics software (V 23, IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA).
Results revealed that both treatments (ACT and SSRIs drug therapy) had significant impacts on reducing depression subscales scores and increasing WHOQOL‑BREF scores at posttreatment (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences in QOL scores between the two groups after the intervention and follow‑up (P > 0.05). Nevertheless, drug therapy presented a significantly greater improvement in depression scores of patients than those resulting from ACT (P = 0.005). The persistence of treatment effects continued after 3 months (follow‑up) in both groups.
ACT is equal to SSRIs drug therapy in terms of improving QOL in patients with OCD. However, SSRIs are more effective in treating depression in obsessive–compulsive patients. It may be presumed that ACT without any chemical side effect is equal to drug and is preferred for patients who either cannot use drugs or prefer not to have a drug treatment.
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