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Effects of escitalopram on anxiety and respiratory responses to carbon dioxide inhalation in subjects at high risk for panic disorder: a placebo-controlled, crossover study.

Author(s): Coryell W, Rickels H

Affiliation(s): Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA. william-coryell@uiowa.edu

Publication date & source: 2009-04, J Clin Psychopharmacol., 29(2):174-8.

Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

BACKGROUND: Individuals with panic disorder and those at high risk for panic disorder due to a positive family history seem to have elevated sensitivities to the panicogenic effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) inhalation as well as abnormal ventilatory responses to low doses of CO2 exposure. Many reports have described a reduction in anxiety responses in individuals with panic disorder after a brief treatment with a variety of medications effective in the treatment of panic disorder, but few of these have used placebo control. METHODS: Thirty-two unmedicated individuals who had either a past history of panic attacks or a family history of treated panic disorder and who demonstrated, at baseline, a panic attack after either a single breath of 35% CO2 or 3 minutes of exposure to 5% CO2 or a decline in minute volume during 3 minutes of exposure to 5% CO2 were randomized to 2-week trials of escitalopram at 10 mg daily or placebo and, after a 1-week washout, to a 2-week trial of the alternate condition. RESULTS: Placebo and escitalopram conditions did not differ by changes in anxiety responses to high-dose, single-breath, or low-dose continuous-breathing CO2 exposures. Ventilatory abnormalities were no more likely to resolve with escitalopram than with placebo. Self-ratings of anxiety and depressive symptoms showed little change over time with either escitalopram or placebo. CONCLUSIONS: Escitalopram did not produce greater changes than placebo in panic responses or in ventilatory abnormalities seen during CO2 exposure. Future studies concerning the effects of antidepressants on responses to CO2 challenge should use a placebo-controlled design.

Page last updated: 2009-10-20

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