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Panic Disorder: A pharmacological armamentarium


Panic disorder is the most common anxiety disorder in the primary-care setting. It is characterized by episodes of acute, unexpected, and unprovoked anxiety and is often associated with depression and/or agoraphobia. Symptoms may become so pervasive that many life situations may be avoided. Management of panic disorder includes cognitive behavioral therapy, patient education, and pharmacotherapy. This article focuses on the rationale of drug therapy, methods of management, and other clinical considerations such as side effects. In addition, newer formulations are available that may subsequently change how patients are managed. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are considered first-line therapy, with tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) as a possible alternative if the patient fails to respond. These agents are also useful in the management of comorbid depression. Benzodiazepines offer more rapid anxiolysis and may be used in combination with an SSRI for bridging. Although monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) have been studied, they do not have a significant role in the pharmacological management of panic disorder. (Formulary 2003;38:431?38.)

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