Okay. I know it has been quite a while and I apologize for not writing a follow up sooner. I will try to keep it brief especially since I am typing this on my phone.
Since the original writing of this post, I have been on Namenda for about 2 years straight (dose = 5mg two times daily). Now just for completeness, I will let you know I also take Toprol Xl 50mg and Vyvanse 60mg everyday.
When I first started taking Namenda, I had very clinically severe OCD. In fact I was initially prescribed Namenda by a psychiatrist at a (voluntary) residential OCD treatment center where I had stayed for 2 months. Yes, my OCD was so bad that, as a first year med student at the time, i had to take a year long leave of absence to get it under control.
Now the journey to getting it under control took a whole year, several doctors, 3 separate stints in a partial hospitalization program for OCD, thousands upon thousands of dollars on psychologists, etc. You get the picture.
2 years later I would say i have made very significant improvements. In the time since i left residential treatment (coincided with starting Namenda), I have returned to medical school as a full-time MD student and completed 2 years and got married. Remembering where I was at just 2 years ago, I would say my improvement has been truly remarkable.
Of all those interventions including the 2 months at residential treatment, I would say with confidence that Namenda has been the single biggest factor in helping alleviate my worst OCD symptoms (ruminating, compulsive behavior, etc). I cant fully explain it other than to say I feel a lot different the past couple years, and i find myself rarely engaged in the truly painful periods of "brain lock" that i would feel in the throes of my worst obsessive worrying engagements.
Now to be fair this could simply be a placebo effect. Yes it would be a truly amazing (albeit expensive) revelation to know that the drug has done nothing more than make me believe that in theory it *could* work for me, and I know I did exhaustive research - more than enough to prime myself for some type of expectancy effect. But I say this as a disclaimer, because its the truth and its the responsible thing to say in a post like that that is now ranked #2 on google when you search "Namenda OCD." But to be honest, I really think Namenda has helped me a lot, and that there is a genuine experimental effect.
I would say that Namenda has helped with my worst OCD symptoms. This means it has improved my quality of life significantly. That being said, it does have some drawbacks. For one, it takes a very long time to work (3 months at least, perhaps some improvements as near as 1 month in). Second, there are side effects that are somewhat uncomfortable. I remember the worst for me was the first week or so being in a semo daze, feeling foggy and like my head weight a hundred pounds. This went away after a few weeks though (thankfully).
The other major drawback to using Namenda is that it is expensive. I was thankfully able to get my insurance company to cover it, so that really mitigated the very large pricetag down to something my wife and I could manage. I know Namenda is definitely not a standard treatment for OCD, so I don't know how easy or difficult it would be to get such a drug covered.
Another thing I would like to say about Namenda in general is that I really don't think it synergizes well at ALL with any of the benzodiazepines (Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, etc.) I am very thankful that I did a medically monitored (3 month+) taper off benzodiazepines before I started taking Namenda. For whatever reason, the few times I did take small doses of Klonopin here and there, and even to just to deal with initial side effects of the Namenda itself, I found I almost took a step backwards. To be honest I cannot at present think of the reason why this would make sense from a pharmacodynamic/kinetic standpoint. If you are thinking about Namenda, perhaps try to do a safe (and I mean safe, not like 3 days and you stop) taper off high dose benzodiazepines. I mean consider doing a several month taper with an M.D. in your area who specializes in addictionology or substance abuse (these guys are the ones who will be most likely to know what a safe taper is... I've found some of the older MDs are complete idiots when it comes to tapering off benzodiazepines, which if done too fast can be very dangerous and will really set you back if you even try Namenda). I really should try to get in touch with some of the people I met in residential OCD treatment, many of whom were prescribed Namenda at the top OCD centers, to see if they've noticed any interaction. *Note - do not under any circumstances stop taking or change your dosage on your medication (esp any of the drugs just mentioned) without first consulting your M.D.
Also my n=1 experience with Namenda and Vyvanse (a stimulant) = the rumors about Namenda increasing sensitivity to ADHD meds is rubbish. At least in my experience. No I don't think there is any significant interaction, but I also do not believe for a second that Namenda potentiates the effect of amphetamines (like some on the ADHD forums postulate). But of course, this is just my experience.
Another note, I do not take SSRIs as I have always hated that class of drugs with a burning passion. I won't get into details though, but just to reiterate, I did not take the standard course of drug treatment with an SSRI or Anafranil. I would put Namenda up against any of the SSRIs for the long-term treatment of OCD any day of the week.
Before I conclude, let me just caution people who use my testimonial as an inspiration for trying Namenda. It is by no means a miracle drug. Even if you have the exact same thing happen to you as it did to me when you've taken it for a few months (which is highly questionable that you will, given that everyone is different and I have no idea if its my own personal genetics, type of OCD, or one of 10,000 other individual factors that synergizes well with the drug).
Also please do not lose hope and definitely try to keep up with your non-drug treatment options. I will not say that the cognitive behavioral and (especially) exposure therapy did not help me recover. I wouldn't say that it has done as much as Namenda, but I also wouldn't say it was worthless, either.
Lastly, even as an M.D. student myself and someone who has a phenomenal respect for my chosen profession and the giants (and giantesses) who have and still do practice in all specialties and subspecialties of allopathic medicine, I do want to encourage you to find a psychiatrist who is caring and is current with their medical knowledge. Usually this means a university associated M.D., but certainly not always. One of the most knowledgeable psychiatrist I've ever met in my personal or professional life was a psychiatrist who practice in a rural Midwestern town of 8,000 people. Some of the biggest morons who somehow envagled their way through med school and wound up matching psychiatry were at big name hospitals or treatment programs. Since I started Namenda, I've been seeing the same private practice psychiatrist who I've developed a very good relationship with, partly because he knows I am medical student and has been with me from my leave of absence now into my 2nd year. So again I want to just encourage you to find an M.D. who really knows what they are doing and is not going to try to give you 3 different medications in addition to Namenda when you ask for it. Sometimes more is less, and with my experience and self-reported experience of many others (including actual M.D.s who were patients themselves in the OCD centers I was at), never expect a pill to solve all of your problems.
Anyway I hope this was a detailed enough response. I may abandon this thread because I do not want to get into a long-term engagement with the readers here in a way that might make it seem like I am endorsing Forest pharmaceuticals or Namenda as a psychiatric drug. And frankly, I am somewhat uncomfortable putting out this report because I know it will likely get people to ask their doctors for a prescription and I don't want my post the be the catalyst for having them take something potentially harmful. The truth of the matter is, I have no idea (or do I think anyone else does at this point) what the long-term effects of NMDA receptor antagonists are on the brain. Yes Namenda (memantine) has been around for a few decades now, but up until recently it has only really been given to elderly folks with dementia. Keep that one in mind as you as consider your options.