Enhancing exposure therapy for PTSD with yohimbine HCL: protocol for a double-blind, randomized controlled study implementing subjective and objective measures of treatment outcome.

Research paper by Bethany C BC Wangelin, Mark B MB Powers, Jasper A J JA Smits, Peter W PW Tuerk

Indexed on: 14 Aug '13Published on: 14 Aug '13Published in: Contemporary Clinical Trials


Prolonged exposure (PE) therapy is considered a gold standard protocol for the treatment of PTSD, and it is associated with large treatment effect sizes in combat veteran samples. However, considering high rates of PTSD in the present veteran population, ongoing research work is important toward improving treatment efficiency by decreasing time to symptom amelioration and increasing the amount of symptom amelioration. The proposed research aims to enhance exposure therapy outcomes for veterans with PTSD via combination treatment with PE and yohimbine hydrochloride (HCL), an alpha-2 adrenergic receptor antagonist. The proposed investigation entails a randomized, placebo-controlled trial investigating the effect of a single administration of yohimbine HCL (paired with the first session of imaginal exposure) on outcome of PE in 40 veterans with PTSD. An additional goal is to establish a pragmatic method of tracking psychophysiological measures over the course of therapy for incorporation into future clinical psychotherapy trials. Thus, in addition to traditional self- and clinician-reported psychological outcomes, heart rate and skin conductance reactivity will be measured during a standard trauma-specific imagery task before, during, and after PE treatment. We will further investigate whether changes in psychophysiological measures predict changes in patient- and clinician-reported outcome measures.