Effect of medication and psychotherapy on heart rate variability in panic disorder

Depression and Anxiety (Impact Factor: 4.29). 03/2009; 26(3):251 - 258. DOI: 10.1002/da.20533

ABSTRACT Background: Panic disorder (PD) patients have been shown to have reduced heart rate variability (HRV). Low HRV has been associated with elevated risk for cardiovascular disease. Our aim was to investigate the effects of treatment on heart rate (HR) in patients with PD through a hyperventilation challenge. Methods: We studied 54 participants, 43 with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) PD and 11 controls. Subjects lay supine with their heads in a plastic canopy chamber, resting for 15 min and then breathing at a rate of 30 breaths per minute for 10 min. HRV was sampled for spectral analysis. Clinical and behavioral measures of anxiety were assessed. Treatment was chosen by patients: either 12 weeks of CBT alone or CBT with sertraline. Results: All patients showed significant decrease on clinical measures from baseline and 31 were treatment responders, 8 dropped out of the study before completion of the 12-week treatment phase and 4 were deemed nonresponders after 12 weeks of treatment. Although both treatments led to significant clinical improvement, only CBT alone demonstrated a significant reduction in HR and increase in HRV. Conclusions: Our study replicated the finding that increased HR and decreased HRV occur in PD patients. Given the evidence of cardiac risk related to HRV, CBT appears to have additional benefits beyond symptom reduction. The mechanisms of this difference between CBT and sertraline are unclear and require further study. Depression and Anxiety, 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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    ABSTRACT: Background and Objectives Identifying for whom and under what conditions a treatment is most effective is an essential step toward personalized medicine. The current study examined pre-treatment physiological and behavioral variables as predictors and moderators of outcome in a randomized clinical trial comparing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for anxiety disorders. Methods Sixty individuals with a DSM-IV defined principal anxiety disorder completed 12 sessions of either CBT or ACT. Baseline physiological and behavioral variables were measured prior to entering treatment. Self-reported anxiety symptoms were assessed at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 6- and 12-month follow-up from baseline. Results Higher pre-treatment heart rate variability was associated with worse outcome across ACT and CBT. ACT outperformed CBT for individuals with high behavioral avoidance. Subjective anxiety levels during laboratory tasks did not predict or moderate treatment outcome. Limitations Due to small sample sizes of each disorder, disorder-specific predictors were not tested. Future research should examine these predictors in larger samples and across other outcome variables. Conclusions Lower heart rate variability was identified as a prognostic indicator of overall outcome, whereas high behavioral avoidance was identified as a prescriptive indicator of superior outcome from ACT versus CBT. Investigation of pre-treatment physiological and behavioral variables as predictors and moderators of outcome may help guide future treatment-matching efforts.
    Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 01/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.jbtep.2014.08.002 · 2.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Catecholamines such as norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine are closely related to the autonomic nervous system, suggesting that panic disorder may involve elevated catecholamine levels. This study investigated basal and posttreatment catecholamine levels in patients with panic disorder. A total of 29 patients with panic disorder and 23 healthy controls participated in the study. Panic disorder patients received paroxetine treatment for 12 weeks after clinical tests and examination had been conducted. We investigated the difference in basal levels of catecholamine and measured the changes in catecholamine levels before and after drug treatment in panic disorder patients. The basal plasma epinephrine (48.87±6.18pg/ml) and dopamine (34.87±3.57pg/ml) levels of panic disorder patients were significantly higher than those (34.79±4.72pg/ml and 20.40±3.53pg/ml) of the control group. However, basal plasma norepinephrine levels did not show statistically significant differences between patients and controls. After drug therapy, plasma catecholamine levels were nonsignificantly decreased and norepinephrine levels showed a tendency toward a decrease that did not reach significance. In conclusion, this study suggests the possibility of a baseline increase of plasma catecholamine levels and activation of sympathetic nervous systems in patients with panic disorder which may normalize after treatment with paroxetine. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Psychiatry Research 12/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2014.11.065 · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The future of psychotherapy relies on the dialog with the basic science, being the identification of psychotherapeutifc biomarkers of efficacy a core necessity. Heart rate (HR) is one of the most studied psychophysiological parameters in anxiety disorders.Methods To investigate the impact of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) on the HR of patients with anxiety disorders, we conducted a meta-analysis and systematic review. Electronic searches were conducted in the ISI/Web of Knowledge, PsychINFO and PubMed/MEDLINE for studies which evaluated HR at least once before and after CBT. Keywords related to anxiety disorders, HR and CBT were used in the search.Results474 studies, of which 47 were selected for the systematic review and 8 for the meta-analysis, were identified. The results provide evidence that CBT significantly decreases the HR of posttraumatic stress disorder patients. In social phobia, obsessive–compulsive disorder and acute stress disorder, the results point in the same direction, although it is still early to attribute the decrease in HR to CBT. In specific phobias, traditional exposure therapy showed greater effect size than exposure with distractors or without psycho-education.LimitationsMost of the randomized trials have not been conducted in accordance with rigorous methodological quality criteria.Conclusions Standardization in the methods used and in treatment protocols, as well as investigations in groups of patients with low physiological reactivity, are necessary in order to reach better conclusions. Notwithstanding these limitations, HR is beginning to emerge as a potential biomarker of efficacy in anxiety disorders.
    Journal of Affective Disorders 10/2014; 172. DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2014.09.058 · 3.71 Impact Factor


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Jun 5, 2014