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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Beats Psychotherapy for Panic Attacks

30 Sep

Researchers from Maastricht University, The Netherlands, compared the effects of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) with IPT (Interpersonal Psychotherapy – a form of therapy that focuses on relationships) for treating panic disorder with agoraphobia.

Ninety-one adult patients with a primary diagnosis of panic disorder with agoraphobia were randomized to either a CBT condition or IPT.  The primary outcome measured was panic attack frequency, along with a behavioral test.

Secondary outcomes were panic and agoraphobia severity, panic-related thoughts, interpersonal functioning and general psychopathology. Measures were taken at 0, 3 and 4 months (baseline, end of treatment and follow-up).

Intention-to-treat (ITT) analyses on the primary outcomes indicated superior effects for CBT in treating panic disorder with agoraphobia.

Reductions in the secondary outcomes were equal for both treatments, except for agoraphobic complaints and behavior and the credibility ratings of negative interpretations of bodily sensations, all of which decreased more with CBT.

The investigators conclude that CBT is the preferred treatment for panic disorder with agoraphobia, as compared to IPT.

Citation: Vos SP, Huibers MJ, Diels L, Arntz A. A randomized clinical trial of cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy for panic disorder with agoraphobia. Psychol Med. 2012 Dec;42 (12):pp 2661-72. doi: 10.1017/S0033291712000876. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award