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Pharmacotherapy of panic disorder

Authors Pull CB, Damsa C

Published 8 August 2008 Volume 2008:4(4) Pages 779—795

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S1224


Charles B Pull1, Cristian Damsa2

1Department of Neurosciences, Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg, Luxembourg; 2Department of Psychiatry, Clinical Investigation Program, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, USA

Abstract: Panic disorder (PD) is a common, persistent and disabling mental disorder. It is often associated with agoraphobia. The present article reviews the current status of pharmacotherapy for PD with or without agoraphobia as well as the current status of treatments combing pharmacotherapy with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). The review has been written with a focus on randomized controlled trials, meta-analyses, and reviews that have been published over the past few years. Effective pharmacological treatments include tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and various benzodiazepines. Treatment results obtained with CBT compare well with pharmacotherapy, with evidence that CBT is at least as effective as pharmacotherapy. Combining pharmacotherapy with CBT has been found to be superior to antidepressant pharmacotherapy or CBT alone, but only in the acute-phase treatment. Long term studies on treatments combining pharmacotherapy and CBT for PD with or without agoraphobia have found little benefit, however, for combination therapies versus monotherapies. New investigations explore the potential additional value of sequential versus concomitant treatments, of cognitive enhancers and virtual reality exposure therapy, and of education, self management and Internet-based interventions.

Keywords: Panic disorder, agoraphobia, pharmacotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, combination treatments.

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