Stuttering or stammering is a speech disorder. It is medically referred to as a "disfluent speech disorder." It is not restricted to speech alone, but includes sounds, syllables, and words that are either prolonged or repeated, disrupting the normal and casual flow of speech. Associated symptoms of stuttering may include rapid eye movement such as blinking and tremors of the lips and the jaw. Stuttering treatment helps people improve their communication and enhance the quality of their lives. Stuttering may either be a childhood problem or may develop during later stages of life as an aftereffect of drug use, tumor, stroke, or an injury to the head.
Because stuttering has a strong neurological component associated with it, there are a number of drugs available to deal with the problem.
Stuttering help can be found through drugs like Alprazolam (Xanax). This anti-anxiety agent works by calming the senses to improve the quality of speech. Citalopram (Celexa) is a drug that works at the neurotransmitter level. Its active ingredient acts as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
Clomipramine (Anafranil) is a serotonergic drug that also works in the same way.
Experiments show that only a minority of patients who seek help for stuttering through drug treatment alone respond with increased fluency. People who undergo drug therapy for stuttering exhibit only a very slight reduction in stuttering. A combinatorial approach has now been developed for treating stuttering.
Dopamine antagonists, prescribed by psychiatrists, are currently being used to treat stuttering. Haloperidol (Haldol), an age-old dopamine antagonist, is no longer prescribed due to its associated side effects. This has been replaced with newer medications that work selectively by targeting specific dopamine receptors. Both dopamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters that cause excitation upon their release. Medications that help stop stuttering act on the dopamine D2-receptor of the brain. Another dopamine antagonist is Risperidone (Risperdal) which reduces stuttering by about 50%.
A common feature of these drugs is their effectiveness in the therapy for stuttering only in low-stress situations. To deal with high-stress situations, medical practitioners and psychiatrists may suggest other drugs such as Olanzapine (Zyprexa), which is known to reduce stuttering by around 33%, Pimozide, and Tiapride.
Drug testing is currently being conducted on Pagoclone, the newest medication for stuttering. Scientists suggest that this may provide the ultimate therapy for stuttering because it deals with inhibiting the release of both the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.
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