BACKGROUND This study compared the efficacy and tolerability of paroxetine with placebo in the treatment of panic disorder.
METHOD After three weeks of placebo, patients received 12 weeks of treatment with paroxetine (20, 40, or 60 mg) or placebo, and finally two weeks of placebo. Dosages were adjusted according to efficacy and tolerability. Standardised cognitive therapy was given to all patients. The primary measure of outcome was reduction in the number of panic attacks.
RESULTS Analysis of the results showed statistically significant differences in favour of paroxetine between the two treatment groups in two out of the three primary measures of outcome, i.e. 50% reduction in total number of panic attacks and number of panic attacks reduced to one or zero over the study period. For the third measure of outcome, the mean change in the total number of attacks from baseline, there was a positive trend in favour of paroxetine. The results of the primary measures of outcome were strongly supported by the results of the secondary efficacy measures of outcome. In addition, paroxetine, at all doses, was very well tolerated.
CONCLUSION Paroxetine plus cognitive therapy was significantly more effective than placebo plus cognitive therapy in the treatment of panic disorder.