Sanjaya Saxena, M.D. 

Professor, UCSD Department of Psychiatry

Director, UCSD Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders Program

Director, UCSD Outpatient Psychiatric Services


Contact Information

140 Arbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92103
T: (619) 543-6883
F: (619) 543-7537


Dr. Saxena received his Bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College and his medical degree (Alpha Omega Alpha) from University of Minnesota Medical School. He did his psychiatry residency at UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, then completed a research fellowship in neuroimaging in neuropsychiatric disorders, receiving a Charles A. Dana Foundation Scholarship. He was on the faculty of the UCLA Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences for nine years before coming to UCSD and the VA San Diego Healthcare System in November, 2005. In 2006, he became the Director of the UCSD Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders (OCD) Program. He also created San Diego VA Anxiety Disorders Clinic and directed it for four years. Since 2010, he has served as Director of UCSD Outpatient Psychiatric Services and also continues to direct the UCSD OCD Clinic. Dr. Saxena has been elected into Best Doctors in America every year since 2005, and into Castle Connelly’s and US News & World Report’s America’s Top Doctors every year since 2008. Dr. Saxena is also heavily involved in teaching psychiatric residents and medical students at UCSD.

Research Interests

Research Focus

His research focuses on the neurobiology and treatment of OCD, Hoarding Disorder (HD), and related disorders. He has received awards and grants from the American Psychiatric Association, American Neuropsychiatric Association, International OCD Foundation, and the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Saxena serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the International OCD Foundation and was an advisor to the DSM-5 Workgroup on Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders. He and his colleagues developed the diagnostic criteria for Hoarding Disorder, which is now listed as a separate diagnosis in DSM-5. His research has garnered attention from local, national, and international media.


  • Saxena S, Brody AL, Schwartz JM, Baxter LR. Neuroimaging and frontal-subcortical circuitry in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Brit J Psychiatry 173 (suppl. 35): 26-38, 1998.
  • Saxena S & Rauch SL. Functional neuroimaging and the neuroanatomy of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychiatric Clin N Am 23 (3): 563-586, 2000.
  • Saxena S, Brody AL, Ho ML, Alborzian S, Ho MK, Maidment KM, Huang SC, Wu HM, Au SC, Baxter LR. Cerebral metabolism in major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder occurring separately and concurrently. Biol Psychiatry 50: 159-170, 2001.
  • Saxena S, Brody AL, Ho ML, Alborzian S, Maidment KM, Zohrabi N, Ho MK, Huang SC, Wu HM, Baxter LR. Differential cerebral metabolic changes with paroxetine treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder versus major depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry 59:250-261, 2002.
  • Saxena S, Brody AL, Ho ML, Zohrabi N, Maidment KM, Baxter LR. Differential brain metabolic predictors of response to paroxetine in obsessive-compulsive disorder versus major depression. Am J Psychiatry 160: 522-532, 2003.
  • Saxena S, Brody AL, Maidment KM, Smith EC, Zohrabi N, Katz E, Baker SK, Baxter LR. Cerebral glucose metabolism in obsessive-compulsive hoarding. Am J Psychiatry 161: 1038-1048, 2004.
  • Saxena S, Brody AL, Maidment KM, Baxter LR. Paroxetine treatment of compulsive hoarding. J Psychiatr Res 41: 481-487, 2007.
  • Saxena S. Is compulsive hoarding a genetically and neurobiologically discrete syndrome? Implications for diagnostic classification. Am J Psychiatry 164 (3), 2007.
  • Saxena S. Neurobiology and treatment of compulsive hoarding. CNS Spectrums 13(9)(Suppl 14): 29-36, 2008.
  • Saxena S, Gorbis E, O’Neill J, Baker SK, Mandelkern MA, Maidment KM, Chang S, Salamon N, Brody AL, Schwartz JM, London ED. Rapid effects of brief intensive cognitive-behavioral therapy on cerebral glucose metabolism in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Molec Psychiatry 14: 197-205, 2009.