Novel treatment approaches for refractory anxiety disorders

Depress Anxiety. 2008;25(6):467-76. doi: 10.1002/da.20329.


The Anxiety Disorders Association of America convened a conference of experts to address treatment-resistant anxiety disorders and review promising novel approaches to the treatment of refractory anxiety disorders. Workgroup leaders and other participants reviewed the literature and considered the presentations and discussions from the conference. Authors placed the emerging literature on new therapeutic approaches into clinical perspective and identified unmet needs and priority areas for future research. There is a relative paucity of efforts addressing inadequate response to anxiety disorder treatment. Systematic efforts to exhaust all therapeutic options and overcome barriers to effective treatment delivery are needed before patients can be considered treatment refractory. Cognitive behavioral therapy, especially in combination with pharmacotherapy, must be tailored to accommodate the effects of clinical context on treatment response. The literature on pharmacologic treatment of refractory anxiety disorders is small but growing and includes studies of augmentation strategies and non-traditional anxiolytics. Research efforts to discover new pharmacologic targets are focusing on neuronal systems that mediate responses to stress and fear. A number of clinical and basic science studies were proposed that would advance the research agenda and improve treatment of patients with anxiety disorders. Significant advances have been made in the development of psychotherapeutic and pharmacologic treatments for anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, many patients remain symptomatic and functionally impaired. Progress in the development of new treatments has great promise, but will only succeed through a concerted research effort that systematically evaluates potential areas of importance and properly uses scarce resources.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Secondary Prevention


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Psychotropic Drugs