Benzodiazepine Use Associated with Decreased Memory for Psychoeducation Material in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Panic Disorder

Abstract

In laboratory studies with nonanxious participants, benzodiazepines (BZ) reliably induce anterograde amnesia. It remains unclear whether memory impairments exist for information presented in therapy among anxiety patients who are concomitantly taking BZs. This naturalistic study compared 16 panic disorder patients who were daily BZ users with 16 age- and education-matched, nonmedicated panic disorder patients. An incidental memory task assessed memory for psychoeducation material on the origins and management of somatic anxiety symptoms presented during group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). BZ users showed significantly poorer memory performance than controls although there were no group differences in anxiety symptoms, rates of psychiatric comorbidity, or sedation. Among BZ users, a higher number of minutes away from post peak drug-blood concentration when encoding began, was also associated with better incidental memory performance. Although causation cannot be inferred from this naturalistic study, the memory impairments observed among BZ users may contribute to the poorer efficacy of CBT previously documented in panic disorder patients receiving adjunctive BZs.

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Correspondence to Henny A. Westra.

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Westra, H.A., Stewart, S.H., Teehan, M. et al. Benzodiazepine Use Associated with Decreased Memory for Psychoeducation Material in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Panic Disorder. Cognitive Therapy and Research 28, 193–208 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:COTR.0000021540.15135.45

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  • benzodiazepines
  • memory
  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • psychoeducation