BACKGROUND Citalopram is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor which has been demonstrated to be highly selective and with a superior tolerability profile to the classical tricyclic antidepressants. This study was designed to test whether there was any difference in efficacy in the management of panic disorder (PD) between citalopram and placebo.
METHOD This was a double-blind, placebo and clomipramine controlled, parallel group eight-week study. A total of 475 patients with PD, with or without agoraphobia, were randomised to treatment with either placebo, clomipramine 60 or 90 mg/day, or citalopram 10 or 15 mg/day, or 20 or 30 mg/day, or 40 or 60 mg/day. Doses were increased over the first three weeks, stabilised during the fourth week and fixed between weeks five and eight.
RESULTS Treatment with citalopram at 20 or 30 mg, 40 or 60 mg and clomipramine were significantly superior to placebo, judged by the number of patients free of panic attacks in the week prior to the final assessment. All rating scales examined suggested that citalopram 20 or 30 mg was more effective than citalopram 40 or 60 mg.
CONCLUSION The most advantageous benefit/risk ratio for the treatment of PD was associated with citalopram 20 or 30 mg/day.