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Treatment-Resistant Panic Disorder

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 November 2014


A substantial number of patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia may remain symptomatic after standard treatment (including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines, or irreversible monamine oxidase inhibitors). In this review, recommendations for the treatment of patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia who do not respond to these drugs are provided. Nonresponse to drug treatment could be defined as a failure to achieve a 50% reduction on a standard rating scale after a minimum of 6 weeks of treatment in adequate dose. When initial treatments have failed, the medication should be changed to other standard treatments. In further attempts at treatment, drugs should be used that have shown promising results in preliminary studies, such as venlafaxine. Combination treatments may be used, such as the combination of an selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and a benzodiazepine. Psychological treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy have to be considered in all patients, regardless whether they are nonresponders or not. According to existing studies, a combination of pharmacologic treatment with cognitive-behavioral therapy can be recommended.

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