What is the effect on comorbid personality disorder of brief panic-focused psychotherapy in patients with panic disorder?

Research paper by John R. Keefe MA, Barbara L. Milrod MD, Robert Gallop PhD, Jacques P. Barber PhD, Dianne L. Chambless PhD

Indexed on: 07 Dec '17Published on: 06 Dec '17Published in: Depression and Anxiety


No studies of psychotherapies for panic disorder (PD) have examined effects on comorbid personality disorders (PersD), yet half such patients have a PersD.In a randomized trial for PD with and without agoraphobia comparing Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Panic-Focused Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (PFPP), PersD was assessed pre-to-post treatment with the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnosis of Axis-II Disorders (SCID-II). For patients completing therapy (n = 118, 54 with PersD), covariance between panic and SCID-II criteria improvements was analyzed. SCID-II diagnostic remission and recovery were evaluated. Comparative efficacy of PFPP versus CBT for improving PersD was analyzed both for the average patient, and as a function of PersD severity.37 and 17% of PersD patients experienced diagnostic PersD remission and recovery, respectively. Larger reductions in PersD were related to more panic improvement, with a modest effect size (r = 0.28). Although there was no difference between treatments in their ability to improve PersD for the average patient (d = 0.01), patients meeting more PersD criteria did better in PFPP compared to CBT (P = .007), with PFPP being significantly superior at 11 criteria and above (d = 0.66; 3 more criteria lost).PersD presenting in the context of primary PD rarely resolves during psychotherapies focused on PD, and change in PersD only moderately tracks panic improvements, indicating non-overlap of the constructs. Patients receiving panic-focused psychotherapies may require additional treatment for their PersD. PFPP may be superior at improving severe PersD, but replication of this finding is required.