Duloxetine in panic disorder with somatic gastric pain
Matteo Preve,1 Cristiana Nisita,1 Massimo Bellini,2 Liliana Dell'Osso1
1Department of Psychiatry, Neurobiology, Pharmacology and Biotechnology, 2Department of Gastroenterology, Gastrointestinal Unit, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Abstract: Panic disorder is the most common type of anxiety disorder, and its most common expression is panic attacks characterized with sudden attacks of anxiety with numerous symptoms, including palpitations, tachycardia, tachypnea, nausea, and vertigo: ie, cardiovascular, gastroenterologic, respiratory, and neuro-otologic symptoms. In clinical practice, panic disorder manifests with isolated gastroenteric or cardiovascular symptoms, requiring additional clinical visits after psychiatric intervention. The first-line treatment for anxiety disorders, and in particular for panic disorder, is the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. However, these drugs can have adverse effects, including sexual dysfunction, increased bodyweight, and abnormal bleeding, that may be problematic for some patients. Here we report the case of a 29-year-old Caucasian woman affected by panic disorder with agoraphobia who was referred to our clinic for recurrent gastroenteric panic symptoms. The patient reported improvement in her anxiety symptoms and panic attacks while on a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, but not in her gastric somatic problems, so the decision was taken to start her on duloxetine, a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. After 6 months of treatment, the patient achieved complete remission of her gastric and panic-related symptoms, and was able to stop triple gastric therapy. Other authors have hypothesized and confirmed that duloxetine has greater initial noradrenergic effects than venlafaxine and is effective in patients with panic disorder. This case report underscores the possibility of tailoring therapeutic strategies for the gastroenteric expression of panic disorder.
Keywords: anxiety disorder, panic attacks, palpitations, tachycardia, tachypnea, nausea, vertigo
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