Pharmacotherapy of panic disorder in the elderly: a naturalistic 12-month follow-up outcome study

Pinhas N Dannon, Iulian Iancu, Katherine Lowengrub, Leon Grunhaus and Moshe Kotler

Background: Despite the previously accepted notion that panic disorder (PD) is rare in the elderly, recent data have shown that late-life PD may be more common than previously thought. Paroxetine is a selective serotonergic reuptake inhibitor which has had clear efficacy in the treatment of PD in the general adult population. In this study we aimed to examine the treatment outcome of paroxetine pharmacotherapy for late-life PD. Method: In this long-term naturalistic follow-up study, a group of 61 elderly (aged 59 years or older) PD patients were compared with a group of 95 younger (aged between 18 and 59 years) PD patients in terms of treatment response to paroxetine pharmacotherapy. The two groups were followed during both the initial short-term treatment phase (first 3 months) and throughout long-term (month 4–12) maintenance treatment. The two groups were also compared for side effects of paroxetine therapy. Results: No differences were found between the two patient groups in terms of response rate, side effects and tolerability of drug treatment. Conclusions: The use of paroxetine for the treatment of late-life PD appears to be both beneficial and well tolerated. Further controlled studies are needed to confirm these preliminary results.