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Medication May Aid Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety

medsAlthough anxiety is a normal human response to stress, it can develop into a disabling disorder of excessive and irrational fears, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, or posttraumatic stress disorder.

Effective treatments are available and can involve either behavioral therapy or medications.

Until now, research has suggested combined therapy is no more effective than behavior therapy alone, and in some cases can even be less effective.

However, a new research meta-analysis analyzed a potentially important new treatment paradigm for anxiety.

Dr. Tolin, Ph.D. explains the impetus behind the analysis: “Recently, several researchers have tried a radically different approach: instead of just throwing two effective monotherapies at the problem, they have instead looked at medications that specifically target the biological mechanisms that make psychotherapy work in the first place.”

John H. Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry and another of the study’s authors, adds that “there has now been a sufficient amount of research in this area to take a step back to look at the basic research conducted in animals and the initial clinical trials.”

This research effort has involved the addition of D-cycloserine, an old drug long approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of tuberculosis, to exposure-based fear treatment in animals and humans.

The meta-analysis, a pooling of the published literature on this approach, provides evidence that D-cycloserine enhances the learning process in the brain, indicating that, unlike many other medications, it may improve the effectiveness of behavioral therapy.

There is a caveat, however, as the authors also discovered that tolerance may develop to this effect. Dr. Krystal comments that, if so, “it may be best used before therapy sessions to ‘warm up the brain’ and make it more responsive to the treatment sessions rather than as a daily treatment.”

Dr. Tolin makes an additional, important observation regarding this line of work: “Another very exciting aspect of this work is that it’s one of the few really good examples of translational research in psychiatry: taking basic science from the laboratory, in this case animal studies, and translating that research into useful interventions for humans.”

Although additional research is clearly necessitated, this confirmation of the effectiveness of D-cycloserine is a positive step forward in improving treatments for individuals suffering with anxiety disorders.

Source: Elsevier

Medication May Aid Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Medication May Aid Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/07/17/medication-may-aid-behavioral-therapy-for-anxiety/2621.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.