German Journal of Psychiatry ISSN 1455-1033
2000, Vol. 3, Supplement 1, S3
long-term course of panic disorder - an 11-year follow-up
H, Amering M, Windhaber J, Katschnig H
Department of Psychiatry, Section of Social
Psychiatry and Evaluative Research, University Hospital, Vienna, Austria
The purpose of this study was to assess the naturalistic long-term course of
panic disorder over a period of 11 years.
30 DSM-III-R panic disorder patients, who had suffered from panic disorder
for 6 years on average and who had taken part in an 8 week multicenter drug
trial, were included in the intent-to-follow-up group to be reinterviewed 11
years after the end of the trial. At baseline and at follow-up the same
instruments were used to assess frequency of panic attacks, level of phobic
avoidance and disabilities. Treatments received during the follow-up period and
attempted suicides were assessed with a structured interview. Periods of
well-being during the follow-up period were elicited retrospectively with a
specifically designed longitudinal chart.
24 patients could actually be re-interviewed after 11.3 years. While at
baseline all patients had suffered from panic attacks and had been severely
disabled on a number of measures, 66.7% had no panic attack during the year
before follow-up. During the month before follow-up 87.5% had no panic attack,
and 54% showed no or only mild phobic avoidance. In the areas of work and family
life 90% showed no or only mild disabilities, whereas in the area of social life
this percentage was lower (67%). 33% of the patients were completely remitted
according to a composite remission criterion.
Panic disorder is not a uniformly chronic and progressing disorder. Over a
period of eleven years there is a good chance of recovery from panic attacks and
disabilities, and full remission is also possible.