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A 15-year follow-up study of patients with panic disorder

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 April 2020

Sven Andersch
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, Göteborg University, Gothenburg, Sweden
Jerker Hetta
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, Göteborg University, Gothenburg, Sweden
Corresponding
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Abstract

Background

Panic disorder (PD) is generally regarded as a chronic condition with considerable variation in severity of symptoms.

Aims

To describe the long-term outcome of naturalistically treated PD.

Methods

Fifty-five outpatients with PD, who participated in a placebo-controlled drug trial of the efficacy of alprazolam and imipramine 15 years ago were reassessed with the same instruments used in the original study.

Results

Complete recovery (no panic attacks and no longer on medication during the last 10 years) was seen in 18% of patients, and an additional 13% recovered but were still on medication. Fifty-one percent experienced recurrent anxiety attacks whereas 18% still met diagnostic criteria for PD. The incidence of agoraphobia decreased from 69% to 20%. Patients with agoraphobia at admission tended to have a poorer long-term outcome according to daily functioning compared with patients without agoraphobia at admission, although both groups reported improved daily functioning at follow-up. Maintenance medication was common. No benzodiazepine abuse was reported.

Conclusion

PD has a favourable outcome in a substantial proportion of patients. However, the illness is chronic and needs treatment. The short-term treatment given in the drug trial had no influence on the long-term outcome.

Type
Original articles
Copyright
Copyright © 2003 European Psychiatric Association

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