Stanford researchers have shown in a preliminary non-double blind trial that the anti-depressant Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitor (SSRI) escitalopram (Lexapro) reduces the severity of kleptomania.
STANFORD, Calif. – Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine are reporting promising early results in a study of a medication to treat kleptomania. More volunteers are needed for the confidential 24-week trial that, the researchers say, has curbed the urge to steal in the majority of patients who have entered the study so far.
“The preliminary results from the first patients to go through the study are even better than we expected,” said Elias Aboujaoude, MD, a clinical instructor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and one of the study investigators. “What we have seen so far is very impressive, with 78 percent of the patients responding to the drug in the open-label phase.” The open-label phase is when trial participants are aware that they are taking a particular drug and not a placebo.
Kleptomania, the guilt-ridden, impulsive stealing of inexpensive and unneeded items, often goes untreated as many who suffer from the disorder hesitate to seek help out of fear of being turned in for their illegal activities. More than 1.2 million people in the United States are thought to suffer from kleptomania. The condition differs from shoplifting, in which the action is usually planned, guilt-free and motivated by need or monetary gain. Kleptomania appears to affect more women than men, and the age of onset often dates back to childhood or adolescence.
Although the cause of kleptomania remains unknown, some researchers believe it involves disruptions of the brain neurotransmitter, serotonin. Earlier studies have suggested that a class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, can be effective in treating disorders with similar aspects, such as compulsive skin picking or compulsive shopping.
Lorrin Koran, MD, the professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences who is leading the study, said it is the first double-blind, placebo-controlled test of a medication to treat kleptomania: in this instance, the study is researching the effect of the SSRI escitalopram, which is marketed as Lexapro and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating major depressive disorder.
SSRIs are being tried for a number of other obsessive compulsive disorders. For example, Stanford researchers have previous shown that the anti-depressant SSRI citalopram reduces the severity of obsessive compulsive shopping disorder.
Since so many people are taking SSRIs (e.g. Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa) it is quite possible that the incidence of obsessive compulsive disorders has dropped as a side effect of treating millions of people for depression.
BTW, if you are interested in taking SSRIs check out this table of SSRI side effect rates. There is no one SSRI that is best on all side effects for all people. Many depressed people have to try out a few SSRIs before finding one that works best.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2004 September 24 01:31 PM Brain Disorder Repair|