This long-term extension of an 8-week randomized, naturalistic study in patients with panic disorder with or without agoraphobia compared the efficacy and safety of clonazepam (n = 47) and paroxetine (n = 37) over a 3-year total treatment duration. Target doses for all patients were 2 mg/d clonazepam and 40 mg/d paroxetine (both taken at bedtime). This study reports data from the long-term period (34 months), following the initial 8-week treatment phase. Thus, total treatment duration was 36 months. Patients with a good primary outcome during acute treatment continued monotherapy with clonazepam or paroxetine, but patients with partial primary treatment success were switched to the combination therapy. At initiation of the long-term study, the mean doses of clonazepam and paroxetine were 1.9 (SD, 0.30) and 38.4 (SD, 3.74) mg/d, respectively. These doses were maintained until month 36 (clonazepam 1.9 [SD, 0.29] mg/d and paroxetine 38.2 [SD, 3.87] mg/d). Long-term treatment with clonazepam led to a small but significantly better Clinical Global Impression (CGI)-Improvement rating than treatment with paroxetine (mean difference: CGI-Severity scale -3.48 vs -3.24, respectively, P = 0.02; CGI-Improvement scale 1.06 vs 1.11, respectively, P = 0.04). Both treatments similarly reduced the number of panic attacks and severity of anxiety. Patients treated with clonazepam had significantly fewer adverse events than those treated with paroxetine (28.9% vs 70.6%, P < 0.001). The efficacy of clonazepam and paroxetine for the treatment of panic disorder was maintained over the long-term course. There was a significant advantage with clonazepam over paroxetine with respect to the frequency and nature of adverse events.
The aim of the present study was to verify the sensitivity to the carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) challenge test of panic disorder (PD) patients with respiratory and nonrespiratory subtypes of the disorder. Our hypothesis is that the respiratory subtype is more sensitive to 35% CO 2 . Twenty-seven PD subjects with or without agoraphobia were classified into respiratory and nonrespiratory subtypes on the basis of the presence of respiratory symptoms during their panic attacks. The tests were carried out in a double-blind manner using two mixtures: 1) 35% CO 2 and 65% O 2 , and 2) 100% atmospheric compressed air, 20 min apart. The tests were repeated after 2 weeks during which the participants in the study did not receive any psychotropic drugs. At least 15 of 16 (93.7%) respiratory PD subtype patients and 5 of 11 (43.4%) nonrespiratory PD patients had a panic attack during one of two CO 2 challenges (P = 0.009, Fisher exact test). Respiratory PD subtype patients were more sensitive to the CO 2 challenge test. There was agreement between the severity of PD measured by the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) Scale and the subtype of PD. Higher CGI scores in the respiratory PD subtype could reflect a greater sensitivity to the CO 2 challenge due to a greater severity of PD. Carbon dioxide challenges in PD may define PD subtypes and their underlying mechanisms.
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