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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2002 September;43(3):211-20

language: Italian

Cognitive-behavioral treatment of panic disorders and agoraphobia. A clinical case report

Vincelli F., Meneghelli A.


The scientific studies about Anxiety Disorders suggest that in different geografic, cultural and racial groups approximately 5% of the population will have agoraphobia and 3.5% will have Panic Disorder at some time in their life, with serious personal and social repercussions, such as depression, substance abuse and suicidal tendencies. From the research of PD etiology, a lot of combined physiological-psychological interactionist models of panic have emerged. These studies try to outline more effective therapeutic protocols. Evidence collected over the past 20 years has consistently shown the effectiveness of a multicomponent cognitive-behavioral strategy in the treatment of Panic Disorder with agoraphobia. The treatment package includes interoceptive exposure, cognitive restructuring, graduated exposure to the feared situation. On an average the duration of the protocol is twelve-fifteen sessions. The protocol involves a mixture of cognitive and behavioral techniques which are intended to help patients identify and modify their dysfunctional anxiety-related thoughts, beliefs and behavior. Emphasis is placed on reversing the maintaining factors identified in the cognitive and behavioral patterns. The model for the development and the maintenance of Panic Disorder and agoraphobia is described as well as the cognitive-behavioral protocol of treatment of a clinical case.

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