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Response of patients with panic disorder and symptoms of hypomania to cognitive behavior therapy for panic


Corresponding author: Dr R.C. Bowen, Department of Psychiatry, University of Saskatchewan, 103 Hospital Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 0W8, Canada. Fax: 306-966-8237; e-mail:


Objectives:  The purpose of this cohort study was to determine in patients with Panic Disorder (PD): (1) the prevalence of subsyndromal symptoms of hypomania, and (2) whether subsyndromal hypomania symptoms affect the outcome of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for panic.

Methods:  Using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule, and DSM-III-R criteria we identified 18 individuals with a history of symptoms of hypomania among 56 patients with PD. Patients were treated in an open CBT group program. They were assessed before treatment and 6 and 12 months later. We used the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), the Pearlin-Schooler Mastery Scale (PMS), and the Social Adjustment Scale (SAS) at all assessments.

Results:  The total group significantly improved on all measures. The Clinically Significant Change was 71.4% and the Reliable Change Index 48.2%. Between 6 and 12 months, there was a trend for the hypomania symptom subgroup (PH) to continue to improve on the BSI Depression Scale, the Perceived Stress Scale, the Pearlin–Schooler Mastery Scale, and the Social Adjustment Scale but to lose gains on the BSI Phobic Anxiety and Somatization subscales compared with the group without symptoms of hypomania (PNH).

Conclusions:  Thirty-two percent of patients with PD had symptoms of hypomania. With CBT for panic, patients with PD and symptoms of hypomania improve as much as those without hypomania symptoms. The presence or absence of symptoms of hypomania might help explain the inconsistent effects of depression and personality disorders on the treatment of PD.

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