Cognitive behavioural therapy is the best treatment for panic disorders, a new study finds.
In addition, most people prefer therapy over taking anti-anxiety medication.
→ For more on how to deal with anxiety using techniques from CBT, find out about PsyBlog’s anxiety ebook, “The Anxiety Plan”.
Dr. Barbara Milrod, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, said:
“Panic disorder is really debilitating — it causes terrible healthcare costs and interference with functioning.
We conducted this first ever large panic disorder study to compare therapy types and see if one type of therapy is preferable over another.”
Panic disorders involve suffering from an extreme feeling of anxiety and fear, sometimes for no apparent reason.
Panic attacks can also be triggered by many things, including irrational fears such as phobias.
During panic attacks people can tremble, become sweaty, feel sick and may experience heart palpitations.
The study randomised around 200 people with panic disorders to various different commonly-used therapies.
Therapy lasted for around three months and involved one 45-minute session each week.
Across the two different sites where the therapies were tested, cognitive behavioural therapy was the most effective, and only one-quarter of people dropped out.
Professor Milrod said:
“If patients stick it out and continue with therapy rather than drop out, they have a far greater chance of seeing positive results or getting better.”
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Mildrod et al., 2015).
→ Check out PsyBlog’s anxiety ebook, “The Anxiety Plan”.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Panic image from Shutterstock