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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2002 Sep;4(3):305-19.

Nonpharmacological treatments for anxiety disorders.

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Anxiety Disorder Unit, Hôpital Neurologique, Lyon, France.


An evidence-based review of nonpharmacological treatments for anxiety disorders is presented. The vast majority of the controlled research is devoted to cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and shows its efficiency and effectiveness in all the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) anxiety disorders in meta-analyses. Relaxation, psychoanalytic therapies, Rogerian nondirective therapy, hypnotherapy and supportive therapy were examined in a few controlled studies, which preclude any definite conclusion about their effectiveness in specific phobias, agoraphobia, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), CBT was clearly better than psychoanalytic therapy in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and performance anxiety Psychological debriefing for PTSD appeared detrimental to the patients in one high-quality meta-analysis. Uncontrolled studies of psychosurgery techniques for intractable OCD demonstrated a limited success and detrimental side effects. The same was true for sympathectomy in ereutophobia. Transcranial neurostimulation for OCD is under preliminary study. The theoretical and practical problems of CBT dissemination are discussed.


anxiety disorder; cognitive-behavior therapy; controlled trial; debriefing; meta-analysis; psychological therapy; psychosurgery

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