Extended-Release Luvox May Ease Obsessive Behavior

Obsessive compulsion (OCD) can begin with obsessive, irrational thoughts and fears. These irrational thoughts are followed by ritualistic actions, such as repetitive hand washing, door closing, or gestures. These rituals are the means to cope with the intrusive, irrational thoughts, but instead a vicious cycle is set into motion. Severe OCD can completely disrupt an individual’s life and also affect family and friends, as they watch their loved one become more and more consumed by compulsive behaviors.

The exact cause of OCD is unknown and may be different for each individual, but a deficit of the neurotransmitter serotonin has been identified as a likely culprit. Treatment for OCD involves both intensive cognitive behavioral therapy and high doses of antidepressant medications. Specifically, drugs belonging to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class have shown success in achieving remission for individuals with OCD.

Luvox (fluvoxamine) is an SSRI but is structurally quite different from other drugs in the class such as Paxil (paroxetine) or Prozac (fluoxetine). Currently, it is the preferred treatment option for people with OCD. Interestingly, studies have shown that the action of Luvox and other antidepressants in treating OCD is completely independent of depression. In other words, a person with OCD need not be depressed to benefit from Luvox treatment.

Other studies have suggested that Luvox improves the response to behavioral therapy. This shouldn’t be surprising, as nearly all psychiatric conditions benefit from a multipronged treatment approach. Luvox is also safe and well-tolerated. Another antidepressant, Norpramin (desipramine), may actually be slightly more effective than Luvox, but it carries a greater risk of side effects.

With OCD, dosages near the high end of the safety guidelines are necessary to achieve improvement and eventual remission. Recently, a new, extended-release formulation of Luvox has been developed that may be well suited to the treatment of OCD. The dosage of the immediate-release formulation must be gradually increased, thereby delaying the positive effects. The extended-release version, on the other hand, offers a much faster onset of symptom improvement.

Concentrations of medication in blood plasma are a reliable indication of drug concentrations in the brain. Blood plasma measurements have confirmed that the Luvox extended-release formula achieves an effectiveness threshold much faster than the standard, immediate-release formulation. With its combination of fast action and safety, Luvox extended-release may soon be the first-line treatment for adults with moderate or severe OCD.


  1. PubMed Health. (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Fluvoxamine. Retrieved April 4, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000955/
  2. Ordacgi, L., Mendlowicz, M. V., Fontenelle, L. F. (2009). Management of obsessive-compulsive disorder with fluvoxamine extended release. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 5, 301-308.

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