A tuberculosis medication is currently in Phase II clinical trials for phobia treatment. Years of preliminary research have demonstrated that the medication D-cycloserine, marketed as a tuberculosis medication under the brand name Seromycin, can boost the effectiveness of therapy in treating a variety of simple phobias.
The medication appears to work by affecting the NMDA receptors in the amygdala portion of the brain, although it is not yet clear if this is its only effect. It does not directly treat the phobia. Instead, the drug appears to stimulate the area of the brain that is responsible for unlearning fear responses.
Repeated clinical trials have demonstrated that patients with acrophobia (fear of heights) respond much more quickly to traditional therapy than patients who take a placebo. Clinical trials are now ongoing to explore the medication's effects on other phobias, as well as other anxiety disorders.
Although it is too early to make a definite call, all signs indicate that D-cycloserine may be both safe and effective as an adjunct to therapy in patients with phobias.Sources:
Ressler MD, PhD, Kerry, Rothbaum PhD, Barbara O., Tannebaum PhD, Libby, Anderson PhD, Page, Graap MEd, Ken, Zimand PhD, Elena, Hodges PhD, Larry and Davis PhD, Michael. Cognitive Enhancers as Adjuncts to Psychotherapy: Use of D-Cycloserine in Phobic Individuals to Facilitate Extinction of Fear. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2004. 61. pp. 1136-1144. February 19, 2008.
Davis, Michael, Myers, Karyn M., Ressler, Kerry J., Rothbaum, Barbara O. Facilitation of Extinction of Conditioned Fear by D-Cycloserine: Implications for Psychotherapy. Current Directions in Psychological Science. August 2005. 14:4. pp. 214-219. February 19, 2008.