Avoidance behaviour: A predictor of the efficacy of pharmacotherapy in panic disorder?

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The impact of the avoidance behaviour on the psychopharmacological treatment of panic disorder was explored in the Cross National Collaborative Panic Study (n=1134 patients); in this double blind randomized trial alprazolam, imipramine and placebo were compared during an 8-week treatment period. Patients with extensive avoidance behaviour (agoraphobia) had the most profit from the active drugs. Counter expectancy these specific drug effects were most pronounced in avoidance behaviour. Active drugs (in particular imipramine) were especially more effective than placebo if the patients presented with associated avoidance behaviour. The results suggest that agoraphobia defines more a particular type of anxiety disorder overlapping with panic disorder than merely a severe state of panic disorder.