Effective treatments for panic disorder not reaching patients

People with panic disorder may not be receiving the treatment they need, with only 19-40% of patients estimated to receive standard care, according to a Seminar in this week's issue of the Lancet.

Panic disorder is a common mental disorder that affects up to 5% of the population at some point in life. People with the disorder have recurrent anxiety attacks and can often have agoraphobia a fear of having a panic attack in any place. The condition is often disabling and can lead to increased use of health-care, absenteeism from work, and reduced workplace productivity. Certain genetic and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, may increase the risk of the disorder but the exact cause is unclear.

Anti-depressants and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)* are effective for panic disorder but less than half of those in need receive treatment. Author Peter Roy-Byrne states: "The adaptation and dissemination of these treatments to frontlines of medical-care delivery should be urgent goals for the public-health community."

Barriers to effective care include difficulties with detection and diagnosis, uncertainty about where to seek help, and problems with insurance coverage and concerns about cost of care, especially in the US, explain the authors.


Contact: Joe Santangelo

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