Anxiety disorders represent the most prevalent psychiatric disorders. In addition, a considerable burden is associated with them, not only for individual sufferers, but also for the health care system. However, many patients who might benefit from treatment are not diagnosed or treated. This may partly be due to lack of awareness of the anxiety disorders by primary care practitioners and by the sufferers themselves. In addition, the stigma still associated with psychiatric disorders and lack of confidence in psychiatric treatments are factors leading to no/under recognition and treatment, or the use of unnecessary or inappropriate treatments. This paper aims to provide a comprehensive review of recommendations for the pharmacological treatment of two common anxiety disorders, in particular obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic disorder (PD). The first-line treatments of OCD include medium-high doses of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and clomipramine, a tricyclic (TCA) antidepressant with prevalent serotonergic activity. The recommended drugs for PD include SSRIs, TCAs and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs); in treatmentresistant cases, benzodiazepines like alprazolam may be used in patients with no history of addiction and tolerance. Other treatment options include irreversible and reversible monoamine-oxidase inhibitors, hydroxyzine, and others. Besides pharmacological treatments, some psychological strategies have been shown to be effective, in particular, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and other variants of behavior therapy that have been sufficiently investigated in controlled studies, and, therefore, will be reviewed herein.
Keywords: Obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin-norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors, resistance, non-pharmacological treatments, novel strategies, anxiety, serotonin, addiction and tolerance, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
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