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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 43 (2001) 6, 385 - 394

Review article

Recent developments in the treatment of panic disorder and agoraphobia

A. Bakker

background Research on the most effective treatment of panic disorder and agoraphobia is continuously on the move. New treatments are investigated; combinations of existing treatments get more attention too. Because of this, there is a need for reviewing the latest developments in the treatment of panic disorder and agoraphobia.
aims To provide an overview of treatment studies and meta-analyses on panic disorder and agoraphobia that have been published in the last few years.
method Literature was obtained by literature searches in Excerpta Medica, Psychinfo and Index Medicus. References of the found articles were included.
results Various psychotherapeutical and pharmacological interventions have been proven effective in controlled trials. Straight comparisons between psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy are too scarce and have yielded inconsistent outcomes. A combination of an antidepressant and exposure in vivo clearly appears to be more effective than each individual treatment or other treatment combinations. The combined treatment is especially effective in reducing agoraphobic avoidance behaviour.
conclusion Although very much research has been conducted concerning short-term treatment outcome, so far, little is known about the optimal duration of treatment, combining different interventions, further actions in case of non-response and the influence of comorbidity on treatment outcome.

keywords agoraphobia, panic disorder, pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy