DIAGNOSIS: Panic Disorder
TREATMENT: Psychoanalytic Treatment for Panic Disorder

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Brief Summary

Psychoanalytic Treatment for Panic Disorder

Status: Modest Research Support/Controversial


Psychoanalytic treatment for panic disorder attempts to uncover the unconscious psychological meaning of panic; the treatment often focuses on psychodynamic conflicts that include separation/autonomy and anger expression/management. Psychoanalytic treatment for panic disorder also utilizes transference to work through unconscious conflicts.

The evidence for psychoanalytic treatment for panic disorder is somewhat controversial, insofar as the conceptual basis for this treatment has not been tested. That is, although psychoanalytic psychotherapy appears to work, it is not yet clear that the treatment works via the reduction of unconscious conflicts – the proposed mechanisms of change.

For a brief commentary on psychoanalytic psychotherapy for panic, see: McKay, D., Abramowitz, J., & Taylor, S., & Deacon, B. (2007). Evolving treatments for Panic Disorder, American Journal of Psychiatry, 164, 976-977.


Key References (in reverse chronological order)

Milrod, B., Leon, A.C., Busch, F., et al. (2007). A randomized controlled clinical trial of psychoanalytic psychotherapy for panic disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 164, 265-272.

Milrod, B., & Shear, M.K. (1991). Dynamic treatment of panic disorder: A review. Journal of Mental Disorders, 179, 741-743.


Clinical Resources

Milrod, B., Busch, F., Cooper, A., & Shapiro, T. (1997). Manual of Panic-Focused Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Division 39 of the American Psychological Association is the Division of Psychoanalysis, which offers links to clinical resources and newsletters.


Training Opportunities

The Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research at Columbia University (http://www.columbiapsychoanalytic.org/training.html)

The Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (http://www.iptar.org/).

Treatment Resources

Note: The resources provided below are intended to supplement not replace foundational training in mental health treatment and evidence-based practice