Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Psychiatry. 2003 Aug;160(8):1432-8.

Are benzodiazepines still the medication of choice for patients with panic disorder with or without agoraphobia?

Author information

Brown University, Providence, RI 02906, USA.



Recently, pharmacological treatment guidelines for panic disorder have changed as newer treatment options have become available. The authors examined how the use of psychotropic drugs has shifted over the course of 10 years to determine if prescribing patterns have changed to reflect these revised treatment guidelines.


A total of 443 patients with panic disorder were enrolled in the Harvard/Brown Anxiety Research Project, a prospective longitudinal study of anxiety disorders. These patients were interviewed over the course of 10 years to examine their use of psychotropic medications.


Despite efforts aimed at increasing the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in patients with panic disorder (e.g., APA's practice guideline for panic disorder, Food and Drug Administration approval of particular SSRIs for the treatment of panic disorder), only a modest increase in their use was found. Treatment patterns for psychotropic drugs appear to have remained stable over the past decade, with benzodiazepines being the most commonly used medication for panic disorder. In comparison, SSRI use throughout the follow-up period has remained low. Patients using an SSRI did not have a more favorable clinical course than those using a benzodiazepine, nor were there significantly better rates of remission in patients using SSRIs and benzodiazepines concomitantly.


These results highlight a gap between pharmacological treatment guidelines and actual delivery of care in that recommendations to use SSRIs to treat panic disorder are not being followed. Factors potentially associated with promoting and ignoring treatment recommendations are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center