Enhancing exposure therapy for anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder

Joseph F. McGuire, Adam B. Lewin, Eric A. Storch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Translating findings from basic science, several compounds have been identified that may enhance therapeutic outcomes and/or expedite treatment gains when administered alongside exposure-based treatments. Four of these compounds (referred to as cognitive enhancers) have been evaluated in the context of randomized controlled trials for anxiety disorders (e.g., specific phobias, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder), obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. These cognitive enhancers include d-cycloserine, yohimbine hydrochloride, glucocorticoids and cortisol and brain-derived neurotrophic factor. There is consistent evidence that cognitive enhancers can enhance therapeutic outcomes and/or expedite treatment gains across anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Emerging evidence has highlighted the importance of within-session fear habituation and between-session fear learning, which can either enhance fear extinction or reconsolidate of fear responses. Although findings from these trials are promising, there are several considerations that warrant further evaluation prior to widespread use of cognitive enhancers in exposure-based treatments. Consistent trial design and large sample sizes are important in future studies of cognitive enhancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)893-910
Number of pages18
JournalExpert review of neurotherapeutics
Volume14
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • D-cycloserine
  • brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • cortisol
  • exposure therapy
  • glucocorticoids
  • yohimbine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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