U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Published in Behavior Therapy 34, 49-63, 2003.


The relationship between panic disorder and nonpsychiatric medical illness is complex, but some evidence suggests that panic disorder increases risk for a variety of nonpsychiatric medical conditions. Given the demonstrated efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for panic disorder, we were interested in evaluating the effects of CBT for panic disorder on nonpsychiatric medical symptoms among these patients. Patients were randomized to a 12-week group-administered CBT protocol (n = 22) or a delayedtreatment conlrol (n = 24). Treated patients showed marked improvement in both anxiety symptoms and physical health symptom ratings that were evident at midtreatment and were maintained through a 6-month follow-up period. Despite comparable rates of change, changes in anxiety symptoms did not appear to mediate the relationship between treatment and improved physical health ratings. These findings indicate that CBT appears to have an immediate and long-term beneficial impact on physical health and that this effect is independent from its impact on anxiety symptoms.