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Pharmacological Enhancement of Exposure-Based Treatment in PTSD: A Qualitative Review

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Review

Pharmacological Enhancement of Exposure-Based Treatment in PTSD: A Qualitative Review

Rianne A de Kleine et al. Eur J Psychotraumatol.

Abstract

There is a good amount of evidence that exposure therapy is an effective treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Notwithstanding its efficacy, there is room for improvement, since a large proportion of patients does not benefit from treatment. Recently, an interesting new direction in the improvement of exposure therapy efficacy for PTSD emerged. Basic research found evidence of the pharmacological enhancement of the underlying learning and memory processes of exposure therapy. The current review aims to give an overview of clinical studies on pharmacological enhancement of exposure-based treatment for PTSD. The working mechanisms, efficacy studies in PTSD patients, and clinical utility of four different pharmacological enhancers will be discussed: d-cycloserine, MDMA, hydrocortisone, and propranolol.

Keywords: Posttraumatic stress disorder; cognitive enhancers; exposure therapy; treatment efficacy.

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