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Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2010 Sep;33(3):687-99. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2010.04.008.

Augmentation of cognitive behavioral therapy with pharmacotherapy.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road, Observatory, Cape Town 7925, South Africa.


There has long been interest in combining pharmacotherapy with psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). More recently, basic research on fear extinction has led to interest in augmentation of CBT with the N-methyl Daspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor partial agonist D-cycloserine (DCS) for anxiety disorders. In this article, the literature on clinical trials that have combined pharmacotherapy and CBT is briefly reviewed, focusing particularly on the anxiety disorders. The literature on CBT and DCS is then systematically reviewed. A series of randomized placebo-controlled trials on panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobia suggest that low dose DCS before therapy sessions may be more effective compared with CBT alone in certain anxiety disorders. The strong translational foundation of this work is compelling, and the positive preliminary data gathered so far encourage further work. Issues for future research include delineating optimal dosing, and demonstrating effectiveness in real-world settings.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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