Treatment of anxiety and mood comorbidities in cognitive-behavioral and psychodynamic therapies for panic disorder.

Research paper by John R JR Keefe, Dianne L DL Chambless, Jacques P JP Barber, Barbara L BL Milrod

Indexed on: 26 Apr '19Published on: 25 Apr '19Published in: Journal of Psychiatric Research


It is not known whether common anxiety/mood comorbidities of panic disorder (PD) improve with panic-focused psychological treatment, nor whether there is differential efficacy between therapies in treating comorbidities. In a randomized controlled trial for PD with and without agoraphobia comparing Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Panic-Focused Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (PFPP), symptomatic comorbidities of agoraphobia, MDD, GAD, and social anxiety disorder (SAD) were assessed pre-to-post treatment with the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule (ADIS). Comparative efficacy of CBT versus PFPP for treating comorbid disorders was tested at termination and 1 year's follow-up. Covariance between panic and comorbidity improvements was also analyzed. Most treatment completers (n = 120) evidenced diagnostic remission of their comorbidity (range = 54-69%), which typically reflected a subclinical score on the ADIS (mean range = 1.3 to 1.8). These improvements were generally retained at follow-up. However, patients with MDD dropped out significantly more often (HR = 2.79). No significant symptom change or remission differences emerged between CBT and PFPP for any comorbidity at termination or at follow-up. Panic change was strongly related to improvements in agoraphobia (r = 0.70) and MDD (r = 0.53), moderately related for GAD (r = 0.31), and not significantly related for SAD (r = 0.20). Patients completing panic-focused psychotherapies often experience meaningful remission for diagnoses of agoraphobia, MDD, GAD, and SAD, with no detectable differences between treatments, although sample sizes for the MDD and SAD comparisons were small. In addition, additional efforts may be needed to keep MDD-comorbid patients in treatment. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.