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May 1994

Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Compared With Nonprescriptive Treatment of Panic Disorder

Author Affiliations

From the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, Pa (Drs Shear and Pilkonis), and the Department of Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College, New York, NY (Drs Cloitre and Leon).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1994;51(5):395-401. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1994.03950050055006

Background:  The efficacy of cognitive behavioral treatment for panic disorder has been established in controlled studies. However, little is known about the efficacy of other psychological treatments. We report the results of a study comparing cognitive behavioral treatment with a focused nonprescriptive treatment for panic.

Methods:  Three sessions of panic-related information were provided in each treatment, followed by 12 sessions of either nonprescriptive, reflective listening (nonprescriptive treatment) or a treatment package that included breathing retraining, muscle relaxation, cognitive reframing, and exposure to interoceptive and agoraphobic stimuli (cognitive behavioral treatment).

Results:  Posttreatment and 6-month follow-up assessments revealed a good response to both treatments. We observed a high rate of panic remission and significant improvement in associated symptoms in subjects in each treatment group.

Conclusion:  These findings raise questions about the specificity of cognitive behavioral treatment.