Background: Clomipramine, a serotonin reuptake blocker that has been shown to be effective in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder and other unwanted repetitive, ritualized behaviors, was hypothesized to be superior to desipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant with selective noradrenergic effects, for developmental stuttering.
Method: Seventeen psychiatrically normal subjects, aged 14-61 years, with developmental stuttering completed a 10-week double-blind crossover trial of clomipramine and desipramine after a 2-week single-blind placebo phase.
Results: Clomipramine was superior to desipramine (two-tailed, p < .05) for 5 of 10 self-report ratings including stuttering severity on two scales, degree of preoccupation with stuttering and resistance to stuttering on a visual analog scale, and "expectancy" of stuttering on the Perceptions of Stuttering Inventory.
Conclusion: Clomipramine may be clinically useful for some patients with developmental stuttering. Biological links between developmental stuttering and other repetitive motor patterns that are selectively responsive to serotonergic agents should be explored.