Elias Aboujaoude

Stanford Medicine, Stanford, California, United States

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Publications (19)86.91 Total impact

  • Lorrin M. Koran, Elias Aboujaoude
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    ABSTRACT: Based on the available evidence, we would offer a Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD) patient the choice of a 12-session trial of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) targeting CBD, or a seven-week trial of pharmacotherapy with citalopram. We would treat any co-morbid psychiatric disorder with appropriate psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy, and evaluate the need for couples or family therapy, and for inpatient treatment of suicidality, or comorbid conditions. We would also encourage the use of educational self-help materials. Patients preferring pharmacotherapy would be encouraged to take steps to help control CBD behaviors, e.g., identify the needs over-shopping is meeting and design more rational ways to meet them; find other ways to experience pleasure; take a “truly needed” shopping list along and purchase only these items; leave credit cards at home; avoid shopping alone—a friend may curtail compulsive buying; avoid shopping malls or other personally tempting venues; resist the convenience of online shopping and don’t allow websites to store credit card information, as this makes transactions even speedier and thus more dangerous; keep a daily journal of purchases and expenditures and of the irrational thoughts and feelings driving compulsive buying, and use self-help materials to combat them; reward yourself for exerting control. During medication visits, we would inquire regarding any difficulties in implementing these behavioral changes, and help problem-solve these difficulties. If an adequate CBT trial were ineffective, we would recommend a pharmacotherapy trial. If an adequate pharmacotherapy trial (with or without the informal behavioral therapy approaches listed) were ineffective, we would recommend a formal CBT trial. If this trial also failed, we would offer the patient sequential trials of emerging drug therapies (e.g., naltrexone and memantine). We would encourage patients to continue an effective treatment for a year (i.e., with “booster sessions” of CBT or continued drug therapy), to firmly establish the new shopping habits.
    Current Treatment Options in Psychiatry. 12/2014; 1(4).
  • Elias Aboujaoude
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    ABSTRACT: Compulsive buying disorder (CBD) refers to the chronic purchasing of unneeded or unwanted items, causing significant negative consequences. There are no established criteria for CBD, and operational definitions have relied on similarities with OCD, substance use disorders, and impulse control disorders. Compulsive buying disorder is common, affecting 5.8% of the general population, according to one study. Typically, CBD has early onset, frequent comorbidities, and a chronic course. The etiology of CBD is unknown, with biological, psychological and sociocultural factors proposed as likely contributors. Treatment data are limited and suggest addressing comorbid conditions and considering cognitive behavioral therapy, financial and family counseling, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and naltrexone, among other possible interventions, to target CBD. Beyond treatment, educational, legislative and family-based public policy initiatives can likely help individuals with CBD and other excessive spenders.
    Current pharmaceutical design 08/2013; · 4.41 Impact Factor
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    Elias Aboujaoude
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    ABSTRACT: There is wide agreement that the Internet can serve as a tool that enhances well-being. It is more difficult, however, to find consensus around the issue of problematic Internet use. That may be in part because scientific investigation has lagged far behind technological advances and media attention. The diagnostic schemas that have been proposed since 1996, and the screening tools that have been developed, stress similarities with substance use, impulse control disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Prevalence figures vary as a function of the diagnostic definition used, the age group studied, and whether the surveys were conducted online. Studies suggest high comorbidity rates with mood disorders and, among younger individuals, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Treatment should address any comorbid conditions present, as those may be causing, or exacerbating, problematic Internet use. Interventions that may specifically target problematic Internet use include cognitive behavioral therapy and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, but detailed guidelines must await further studies. For a medium that has so radically changed how we conduct our lives, the Internet's effects on our psychology remain understudied. More research is needed into the pathophysiology, epidemiology, natural course, and treatment of problematic Internet use. In addition, the more subtle psychological changes, such as disinhibition, that seem to characterize people's online behavior also deserve attention, even if they cannot be seen as necessarily pathological.
    World psychiatry: official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) 06/2010; 9(2):85-90. · 8.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Despite increasing recognition of the potentially severe medical and psychosocial costs of pathologic skin picking (PSP), no large-sample, randomized investigation of its prevalence in a national population has been conducted. Two thousand five hundred and thirteen US adults were interviewed during the spring and summer of 2004 in a random-sample, national household computer-assisted phone survey of PSP phenomenology and associated functional impairment. Respondents were classified for subsequent analysis according to proposed diagnostic criteria. Of all respondents, 16.6% endorsed lifetime PSP with noticeable skin damage; 60.3% of these denied picking secondary to an inflammation or itch from a medical condition. One fifth to one quarter of those with lifetime PSP not related to a medical condition endorsed tension or nervousness before picking, tension or nervousness when attempting to resist picking, and pleasure or relief during or after picking. A total of 1.4% of our entire sample satisfied our criteria of picking with noticeable skin damage not attributable to another condition and with associated distress or psychosocial impairment. Pickers satisfying these latter criteria differed from other respondents in demographics (age, marital status) and both picking phenomenology and frequency.
    Comprehensive psychiatry 03/2010; 51(2):183-6. · 2.08 Impact Factor
  • Lorrin M Koran, Elias Aboujaoude, Nona N Gamel
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    ABSTRACT: Two small, double-blind, placebo-controlled, single-dose, crossover studies found dextroamphetamine (d-amphetamine) 30 mg clearly superior to placebo in relieving symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We conducted a 5-week, double-blind, caffeine-controlled study to test the hypothesis that d-amphetamine, added after an adequate selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) trial, would be more effective than caffeine in reducing residual OCD symptoms of moderate or greater severity. Between August 2006 and February 2008, we enrolled adults with DSM-IV OCD and a Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) score of >or= 20 after >or= 12 weeks of adequate treatment with an SSRI or SNRI. Subjects were randomly assigned to double-blind d-amphetamine 30 mg/d or caffeine 300 mg/d added to their SSRI/SNRI and other medications. Responders (first week mean Y-BOCS score decrease of >or= 20%) entered the study's 4-week double-blind extension phase. We enrolled 24 subjects, 11 women and 13 men, with a mean (SD) age of 40 (13.2) years and mean baseline Y-BOCS scores of 26.5 (4.1) for the d-amphetamine group (n = 12) and 29.1 (4.0) for the caffeine group (n = 12). At the end of week 1, 6 of 12 d-amphetamine subjects (50%) and 7 of 12 caffeine subjects (58%) were responders. At week 5, the responders' mean Y-BOCS score decreases were, for the d-amphetamine group (last observation carried forward), 48% (range, 20%-80%); and, for the caffeine group, 55% (range, 27%-89%). Obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression improvement were independent. The double-blind remained intact. No subject discontinued the study due to side effects. Larger, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of both d-amphetamine and caffeine augmentation are needed in OCD subjects inadequately responsive to adequate doses of an SSRI or SNRI. clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00363298.
    The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 07/2009; 70(11):1530-5. · 5.81 Impact Factor
  • Elias Aboujaoude, John J Barry, Nona Gamel
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    ABSTRACT: Data from the fields of genetics, neuroimaging, and animal studies, along with case reports and small clinical trials, point to a role for glutamatergic dysfunction in the pathophysiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We report on the first open-label study to test the hypothesis that memantine, a noncompetitive glutamate antagonist, will result in a clinically meaningful reduction in OCD symptoms in adults with treatment-resistant OCD. We recruited 15 adult subjects with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition-defined OCD and a baseline Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) of 18 or higher, who had failed to respond to treatment with a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI), given at an adequate and stable dose for at least 12 weeks. The duration of memantine treatment was 12 weeks, and the dose was gradually increased to a target of 20 mg/d. Response was defined as a 25% or greater reduction in the Y-BOCS score at study end and a Clinical Global Impression-Improvement scale rating of "much" or "very much" improved. Data from 14 subjects were analyzable. Mean baseline Y-BOCS score was 27.4 (SD, 5.0). Subjects had failed an average of 2.8 (SD, 1.8) SRI trials; 6 subjects had failed augmentation with atypical antipsychotics. At study end, 6 subjects (42.9%) were responders, and response was achieved by EOW4. Responders had significantly lower baseline Y-BOCS scores (2-tailed t tests, P < 0.05, t = 2.2) and had failed fewer SRIs (P <or= 0.05, t = 2.2). Side effects to memantine were mild and transient, and no subject withdrew from the study for an adverse event. In this open-label augmentation trial of memantine in treatment-resistant OCD, almost half the subjects had a meaningful improvement in symptoms. Our study was limited by its small size, presence of comorbidities, and lack of control. Large double-blind placebo-controlled trials are needed to further test our findings.
    Journal of clinical psychopharmacology 02/2009; 29(1):51-5. · 5.09 Impact Factor
  • Lorrin M Koran, Elias N Aboujaoude, Nona N Gamel
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    ABSTRACT: Although not as common as major depressive disorder, dysthymia is not rare and is associated with substantial impairment. Antidepressants and some psychotherapies are often effective. We explored the efficacy of the antidepressant duloxetine, a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Between February 2005 and April 2006, we recruited 24 adults with DSM-IV dysthymia or dysthymia and concurrent major depression ("double depression") who had an entry score of > or = 17 on the clinician-rated Inventory for Depressive Symptomatology (IDS-C). We excluded subjects with significant medical illnesses and those requiring other psychotropic agents or undergoing psychotherapy. Subjects received duloxetine 60 mg/day for 6 weeks, increased as tolerated to 120 mg/day for the remainder of the 12-week trial for those with an inadequate treatment response. The subjects' mean +/- SD IDS-C scores decreased significantly from baseline (27.3 +/- 6.3) to endpoint (7.8 +/- 7.4, Student t = 12.38, df = 23, p < or = .001). The IDS-C response rate (intent-to-treat [ITT]) was 83% (20/24); the remission rate (ITT) was 79% (19/24). Among study completers, these rates were 89% (17/19) and 84% (16/19). Five subjects (21%) discontinued for side effects. Duloxetine appears to be an effective and well-tolerated treatment for dysthymia and double depression. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study is under way. If duloxetine is found to be effective, studies powered to detect potential, clinically important differences between duloxetine and other antidepressants will be needed. ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT00185575.
    The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 05/2007; 68(5):761-5. · 5.81 Impact Factor
  • Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 05/2007; 27(2):225-7. · 3.51 Impact Factor
  • Lorrin M Koran, Elias N Aboujaoude, Nona N Gamel
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    ABSTRACT: Kleptomania has no definitive treatment. Mixed reports of benefit from openly prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors led us to design a double-blind, placebo-controlled discontinuation trial of escitalopram. Between December 2002 and March 2005, we recruited 24 subjects aged >or=20 years with DSM-IV kleptomania of >or=1 year's duration. We excluded subjects with organic mental disorders, psychoses, substance or alcohol abuse, suicidal risk, bipolar I or II disorder, anorexia nervosa, or antisocial personality disorder and subjects requiring other psychotropic medications. Our primary outcome measure was theft episodes per week. A responder was defined as a subject having a > 50% decrease in theft episodes per week and a Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale score of "much improved" or "very much improved." Escitalopram was started at 10 mg/day and increased as necessary and tolerated after week 4 to 20 mg/day. At the end of week 7, responders were randomly assigned to a 1-week taper followed by 16 weeks of placebo or to continuation of treatment for 17 weeks at their week 7 escitalopram dose. Nineteen subjects (79%) were week 7 responders and 15 were randomly assigned. Five subjects (4 responders) withdrew early: 1 for unrelated illness, 1 for protocol deviation, 2 for side effects, and 1 for withdrawn consent. Three (43%) of 7 escitalopram subjects relapsed compared with 4 (50%) of 8 placebo subjects (Fisher exact test p = .38). The high response rate during open-label escitalopram treatment was not better maintained by double-blind escitalopram than by placebo. Kleptomania may be a heterogeneous pathological behavior better treated with pharma-cotherapy in some cases and psychologically or with combined treatment in others.
    The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 04/2007; 68(3):422-7. · 5.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Compulsive buying (uncontrolled urges to buy, with resulting significant adverse consequences) has been estimated to affect from 1.8% to 16% of the adult U.S. population. To the authors' knowledge, no study has used a large general population sample to estimate its prevalence. The authors conducted a random sample, national household telephone survey in the spring and summer of 2004 and interviewed 2,513 adults. The interviews addressed buying attitudes and behaviors, their consequences, and the respondents' financial and demographic data. The authors used a clinically validated screening instrument, the Compulsive Buying Scale, to classify respondents as either compulsive buyers or not. The rate of response was 56.3%, which compares favorably with rates in federal national health surveys. The cooperation rate was 97.6%. Respondents included a higher percentage of women and people ages 55 and older than the U.S. adult population. The estimated point prevalence of compulsive buying among respondents was 5.8% (by gender: 6.0% for women, 5.5% for men). The gender-adjusted prevalence rate was 5.8%. Compared with other respondents, compulsive buyers were younger, and a greater proportion reported incomes under 50,000 US dollars. They exhibited more maladaptive responses on most consumer behavior measures and were more than four times less likely to pay off credit card balances in full. A study using clinically valid interviews is needed to evaluate these results. The emotional and functional toll of compulsive buying and the frequency of comorbid psychiatric disorders suggests that studies of treatments and social interventions are warranted.
    American Journal of Psychiatry 11/2006; 163(10):1806-12. · 14.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Internet has positively altered many aspects of life. However, for a subset of users, the medium may have become a consuming problem that exhibits features of impulse control disorders recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. This is the first large-scale epidemiological study of problematic Internet use through a random-digit-dial telephone survey of 2,513 adults in the United States. Given the lack of validated criteria, survey questions were extrapolated from established diagnostic criteria for impulse control disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance abuse. Four possible diagnostic criteria sets were generated. The least restrictive set required the respondent to report an unsuccessful effort to reduce Internet use or a history of remaining online longer than intended, Internet use interfering with relationships, and a preoccupation with Internet use when offline. The response rate was 56.3%. Interviews averaged 11.3 minutes in duration. From 3.7% to 13% of respondents endorsed > or =1 markers consistent with problematic Internet use. The least restrictive proposed diagnostic criteria set yielded a prevalence of problematic Internet use of 0.7%. Potential markers of problematic Internet use seem present in a sizeable proportion of adults. Future studies should delineate whether problematic Internet use constitutes a pathological behavior that meets criteria for an independent disorder, or represents a symptom of other psychopathologies.
    CNS spectrums 10/2006; 11(10):750-5. · 1.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Small studies have suggested that intravenous clomipramine (CMI) may be more effective and induce faster improvement in obsessive-compulsive disorder than do orally administered serotonin reuptake inhibitors. To test these hypotheses, we conducted a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy study of pulse-loaded intravenous versus oral CMI, followed by open-label oral CMI for 12 weeks. We enrolled a volunteer and referred group of 34 adults with a primary diagnosis of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition obsessive-compulsive disorder of > or =1-year duration and Yale-Brown Obsessive Scale score of > or =20. Eligible subjects had failed > or =2 adequate serotonin reuptake inhibitor trials. Subjects received pulse loaded CMI 150 mg by vein or by mouth on day 1 and 200 mg on day 2. Oral CMI began on day 6 at 200 mg/d and was increased by 25 mg every 4 days to 250 mg/d, as tolerated, for 12 weeks. Adverse events led to one withdrawal during oral pulse loading and 5 during open-label oral treatment. Intravenous pulse loading did not induce a more rapid or greater Yale-Brown Obsessive Scale score decrease than oral pulse loading at day 6 or by week 12. Day 6 and week 12 improvement were unrelated to plasma drug or metabolite concentrations. Pulse loading itself seemed to induce more rapid and greater improvement than expected in treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder. Further investigation of oral pulse-loading regimens in treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder is warranted.
    Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 03/2006; 26(1):79-83. · 3.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Many patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) experience little response to standard treatment with serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Mirtazapine enhances serotonergic function by a mechanism distinct from reuptake inhibition. Because a pilot study suggested effectiveness of mirtazapine in OCD, we conducted a controlled trial. We recruited 30 subjects, 15 treatmentnaive and 15 treatment-experienced, with DSM-IV OCD of > or =1 year's duration and a Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS) score of > or =20. In the 12-week, open-label phase, subjects received mirtazapine starting at 30 mg/day and titrated over 2 weeks as tolerated to 60 mg/day. At week 12, responders (YBOCS score decrease > 25%) were randomly assigned, double-blind, to continue mirtazapine or switch to placebo for 8 weeks, including a 1-week, double-blind taper week for placebo subjects. In the open-label phase, the mean +/-SD YBOCS score fell from 28.3 +/-3.7 to 20.3 +/-8.5 (paired samples t = 4.81, p < .0001). Four subjects (13.3%) discontinued for side effects. Sixteen subjects (53.3%) (8 treatmentnaive, 8 treatment-experienced) were responders and 15 agreed to randomization. Response was independent of comorbid mood disorders. In the 8-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled discontinuation phase, the mirtazapine group's mean YBOCS score fell a mean +/-SD of 2.6 +/-8.7 points while the placebo group's mean score rose a mean +/-SD of 9.1 +/-7.5 points (Mann Whitney U = 6.5, p = .005, 1-tailed). All other outcome measures were consistent with mirtazapine's superiority versus placebo. Mirtazapine may be an effective pharmacotherapy for OCD. If our results are replicated, larger double-blind studies would be indicated.
    The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 04/2005; 66(4):515-20. · 5.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) often responds inadequately to serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs). A case series reported substantial response to once-weekly oral morphine. We conducted a placebo-controlled, double-blind trial to investigate whether once-weekly oral morphine is effective in SRI-resistant OCD. Subjects with DSM-IV-defined OCD for > or =3 years who had failed > or =2 adequate SRI trials and had a Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) score of > or =20 were recruited. Current medications were continued. Subjects were randomly assigned to random-order, 2-week blocks of once-weekly morphine, lorazepam, and placebo. Week 2 dosage was increased, decreased, or maintained depending on response and side effects. We enrolled 23 subjects, who had failed 2 to 6 SRI trials. The median screening Y-BOCS score was 29. The median Y-BOCS score after morphine (highest dose) was 25 (median decrease = 13%). Seven subjects (30%) were responders (Y-BOCS decreases > or =25%). The median Y-BOCS score after lorazepam (highest dose) was 27 (median decrease = 6%). Four subjects (17%) responded to lorazepam; 1 was a morphine responder. The median Y-BOCS score after placebo (highest dose) was 27 (median decrease = 7%), and no subject responded. Responses differed significantly among the 3 conditions (Friedman 2-way analysis of variance, chir(2) = 13.92, df = 2, p = .01). Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-rank tests (T = 56.5, p = .05) showed significance for morphine versus placebo but not lorazepam versus placebo. Our results support the hypothesis that once-weekly oral morphine can reduce symptoms in some treatment-resistant OCD patients. The mechanism of action is unknown. Further studies of mu-agonists and glutamate antagonists are warranted.
    The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 04/2005; 66(3):353-9. · 5.81 Impact Factor
  • Elias Aboujaoude, Nona Gamel, Lorrin M Koran
    The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 06/2004; 65(5):725-6. · 5.81 Impact Factor
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    Elias Aboujaoude, Nona Gamel, Lorrin M Koran
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Despite its considerable personal toll and its impact on the economy and the legal system, kleptomania is an understudied psychiatric disorder. METHOD: We review what is known about the epidemiology, course, and treatment of kleptomania and describe 40 patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for the disorder. RESULTS: Our data suggest a female preponderance, with an early age at onset and most often a continuous course. No other gender-based differences were seen. The majority of our subjects had not received treatment for kleptomania despite often having sought help for comorbid psychiatric conditions, most commonly major depressive disorder. Our data confirm kleptomania's devastating effects on personal and professional lives and serious legal consequences, reflected in high arrest and incarceration rates. Because patients with kleptomania rarely seek psychiatric help for the disorder, we indicate how other health care providers can screen for it, possibly as part of taking patients' legal and social histories, and suggest treatments. CONCLUSION: Awareness of kleptomania, empathy toward those afflicted, and rigorous research into treatment options are needed to mitigate kleptomania's personal and societal costs.
    The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 02/2004; 6(6):244-247.
  • E Aboujaoude, N Gamel, L Koran
    Value in Health 01/2004; 7(3):269-269. · 2.19 Impact Factor
  • Elias Aboujaoude, Nona Gamel, Lorrin M Koran
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    ABSTRACT: Compulsive shopping disorder is increasingly recognized as a treatable impulse-control disorder. We report the first long-term, naturalistic follow-up of patients with compulsive shopping disorder, which examined the course of illness over 1 year in a cohort that had completed up to 3 months of open-label treatment with citalopram, 20 mg/day to 60 mg/day. In that trial, 17 (71%) of 24 subjects who met McElroy and colleagues' diagnostic criteria for compulsive shopping disorder were responders (Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale rating of much or very much improved and Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale-Shopping Version score decrease of >/= 50%). Follow-up interviews occurred 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after study end. Data gathered included comorbid conditions, estimated total debt, 2-week spending, whether the patient was taking citalopram, and illness versus remission status. Remission was defined as no longer meeting diagnostic criteria for compulsive shopping disorder. Data were gathered between March 2000 and January 2002. Of responders at trial end, 81% (13/16), 71% (10/14), 71% (10/14), and 73% (11/15) were in remission at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Mean 2-week compulsive shopping expenditures decreased from 773 US dollars (median = 500 US dollars) at baseline to 351 US dollars (median = 0 US dollars) at month 12, and mean total debt decreased from 17,833 US dollars (median = 20,000 US dollars) to 16,752 US dollars (median = 14,000 US dollars). No clear association was seen between taking citalopram and remission status (p =.55, p =.08, p =.58, and p =.60 at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, respectively; Fisher exact test). The majority of trial nonresponders remained ill at each follow-up point. An acute response to citalopram predicts a greater likelihood of continued remission over 1 year, although the mechanisms that maintain remission require further investigation.
    The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 08/2003; 64(8):946-50. · 5.81 Impact Factor
  • Elias Aboujaoude, Nona Gamel, Lorrin M. Koran
    Journal of Clinical Psychiatry - J CLIN PSYCHIAT. 01/2003; 64(8):946-950.

Publication Stats

435 Citations
86.91 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2010–2014
    • Stanford Medicine
      • Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
      Stanford, California, United States
    • Massachusetts General Hospital
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 2003–2013
    • Stanford University
      • Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
      Palo Alto, California, United States