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In a panic? Talk

People suffering from panic disorder may benefit from a 12-week course of talk therapy developed by scientists in the US.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 18, 2008 12:43 IST

People suffering from panic disorder may benefit from a 12-week course of talk therapy developed by scientists in the US.

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms like chest pain, heart palpitations and shortness of breath.

It is a treatable condition for which doctors prescribe antidepressant medication or advise the patients to go through cognitive behaviour therapy.

In the cognitive part of the therapy patients are taught to learn to recognize things that trigger panic attacks or make them worse.

The behavioural part of the therapy involves learning ways of coping with anxiety, such as using breathing and relaxation techniques.

The new therapy developed by researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City involves twice-weekly sessions.

It focuses on the symptoms of panic disorder as well as garnering insight about the various unconscious factors that may have caused the panic disorder to develop in the first place, reported the online edition of WebMD.

Such focus on the unconscious is the basic underpinning of psychoanalysis, the scientists said.

Scientists studied 49 people with panic disorder and found that more than 70 percent of those in the talk therapy group showed significantly less anxiety and other panic symptoms.

"People really got better, not just a little better," researcher Barbara Milrod said.