Elias Aboujaoude

Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, United States

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Publications (29)138.03 Total impact

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    Vladan Starcevic · Elias Aboujaoude
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    ABSTRACT: This article re-examines the popular concept of Internet addiction, discusses the key problems associated with it, and proposes possible alternatives. The concept of Internet addiction is inadequate for several reasons. Addiction may be a correct designation only for the minority of individuals who meet the general criteria for addiction, and it needs to be better demarcated from various patterns of excessive or abnormal use. Addiction to the Internet as a medium does not exist, although the Internet as a medium may play an important role in making some behaviors addictive. The Internet can no longer be separated from other potentially overused media, such as text messaging and gaming platforms. Internet addiction is conceptually too heterogeneous because it pertains to a variety of very different behaviors. Internet addiction should be replaced by terms that refer to the specific behaviors (eg, gaming, gambling, or sexual activity), regardless of whether these are performed online or offline.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · CNS spectrums
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    ABSTRACT: This commentary paper critically discusses the recent debate paper by Petry et al. (2014) that argued there was now an international consensus for assessing Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD). Our collective opinions vary considerably regarding many different aspects of online gaming. However, we contend that the paper by Petry and colleagues does not provide a true and representative international community of researchers in this area. This paper critically discusses and provides commentary on (i) the representativeness of the international group that wrote the ‘consensus’ paper, and (ii) each of the IGD criteria. The paper also includes a brief discussion on initiatives that could be taken to move the field towards consensus. It is hoped that this paper will foster debate in the IGD field and lead to improved theory, better methodologically designed studies, and more robust empirical evidence as regards problematic gaming and its psychosocial consequences and impact.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Addiction
  • Elias Aboujaoude · Wael Salame

    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · The Journal of pediatrics
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    ABSTRACT: Although excessive and compulsive shopping has been increasingly placed within the behavioral addiction paradigm in recent years, items in existing screens arguably do not assess the core criteria and components of addiction. To date, assessment screens for shopping disorders have primarily been rooted within the impulse-control or obsessive-compulsive disorder paradigms. Furthermore, existing screens use the terms 'shopping,' 'buying,' and 'spending' interchangeably, and do not necessarily reflect contemporary shopping habits. Consequently, a new screening tool for assessing shopping addiction was developed. Initially, 28 items, four for each of seven addiction criteria (salience, mood modification, conflict, tolerance, withdrawal, relapse, and problems), were constructed. These items and validated scales (i.e., Compulsive Buying Measurement Scale, Mini-International Personality Item Pool, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale) were then administered to 23,537 participants (M age = 35.8 years, SD age = 13.3). The highest loading item from each set of four pooled items reflecting the seven addiction criteria were retained in the final scale, The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale (BSAS). The factor structure of the BSAS was good (RMSEA = 0.064, CFI = 0.983, TLI = 0.973) and coefficient alpha was 0.87. The scores on the BSAS converged with scores on the Compulsive Buying Measurement Scale (CBMS; 0.80), and were positively correlated with extroversion and neuroticism, and negatively with conscientiousness, agreeableness, and intellect/imagination. The scores of the BSAS were positively associated with anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem and inversely related to age. Females scored higher than males on the BSAS. The BSAS is the first scale to fully embed shopping addiction within an addiction paradigm. A recommended cutoff score for the new scale and future research directions are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Frontiers in Psychology
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    ABSTRACT: Despite being relatively new, cyberbullying is now well recognized as a serious public health problem affecting children and adolescents. Scientific exploration has lagged media attention, but a synthesis of studies across several disciplines permits an understanding of its epidemiology, phenomenology, mental health dimensions, and management tools. To assess current knowledge of cyberbullying, we searched the MEDLINE, PubMed and PsycINFO databases for articles on "cyberbullying" and related designations. The Google search engine was used to capture otherwise unpublished legislative, governmental, and community response data and to help identify relevant books and book chapters. A significant proportion of children and adolescents (20%-40%) have been victims of cyberbullying, with females and sexual minorities seemingly at higher risk. Perpetrators are more likely to be male. By nature of the electronic platform, there seems to be an easier path to the bully-victim phenomenon (victims who become bullies or vice versa) than that in traditional bullying. A nonlinear relationship with age is suggested, but demographic data overall are preliminary. Accompanying psychopathology, including an increasingly well-established link to suicidality, is common. Several prevention and management approaches have been proposed to help prevent cyberbullying or mitigate its effects. Cyberbullying's seeming ubiquity, its disproportionate toll on vulnerable populations (e.g., children and sexual minorities), the link with suicidality, and the expected continued rise in Internet penetrance and connectivity make confronting it an urgent matter. A multipronged approach is most likely to succeed and would include: educational media campaigns; school-based programs; parental oversight and involvement; legislative action; and screening and evidence-based interventions by health care providers, especially pediatricians and mental health professionals. More research is needed into cyberbullying, but available data suggest a serious problem whose consequences are real and should not be dismissed as a "virtual" by-product of an increasingly digitalized childhood and adolescence. Copyright © 2015 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Journal of Adolescent Health
  • Elias Aboujaoude · Vladan Starcevic

    No preview · Book · Jun 2015
  • Elias Aboujaoude · Wael Salame · Lama Naim
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    ABSTRACT: A rather large body of literature now exists on the use of telemental health services in the diagnosis and management of various psychiatric conditions. This review aims to provide an up-to-date assessment of telemental health, focusing on four main areas: computerized CBT (cCBT), Internet-based CBT (iCBT), virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET), and mobile therapy (mTherapy). Four scientific databases were searched and, where possible, larger, better-designed meta-analyses and controlled trials were highlighted. Taken together, published studies support an expanded role for telepsychiatry tools, with advantages that include increased care access, enhanced efficiency, reduced stigma associated with visiting mental health clinics, and the ability to bypass diagnosis-specific obstacles to treatment, such as when social anxiety prevents a patient from leaving the house. Of technology-mediated therapies, cCBT and iCBT possess the most efficacy evidence, with VRET and mTherapy representing promising but less researched options that have grown in parallel with virtual reality and mobile technology advances. Nonetheless, telepsychiatry remains challenging because of the need for specific computer skills, the difficulty in providing patients with a deep understanding or support, concerns about the "therapeutic alliance", privacy fears, and the well documented problem of patient attrition. Future studies should further test the efficacy, advantages and limitations of technology-enabled CBT, as well as explore the online delivery of other psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological modalities. © 2015 World Psychiatric Association.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · World psychiatry: official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA)
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    Vladan Starcevic · Elias Aboujaoude

    Full-text · Dataset · May 2015
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    Vladan Starcevic · Elias Aboujaoude

    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · World psychiatry: official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA)
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    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.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014
  • 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.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Current pharmaceutical design
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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.
    Preview · Article · Jun 2010 · World psychiatry: official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA)
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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.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2010 · Comprehensive psychiatry
  • E. 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.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2010 · Postepy Psychiatrii i Neurologii
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    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.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2009 · The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
  • 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.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2009 · Journal of clinical psychopharmacology
  • Lorrin M Koran · Elias N Aboujaoude · Brent Solvason · Nona N Gamel · Emily H Smith

    No preview · Article · May 2007 · Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology
  • 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.
    No preview · Article · May 2007 · The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
  • 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.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2007 · The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2006 · American Journal of Psychiatry