Background: Agoraphobia is considered to be the most serious complication of panic disorder. It involves progressive development of debilitating anxiety symptoms related to being in situations where one would be extremely embarrassed and could not be rescued in the case of a panic attack. This study aimed to investigate the efficacy of noninvasive brain stimulation using a radioelectric asymmetric conveyor (REAC) for agoraphobia.
Patients and methods: Twenty-three patients (3 males and 20 females) suffering from agoraphobia and without a history of panic disorder were evaluated by a psychiatrist using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, and the Agoraphobia Scale (AS). The patients were subjected to two 18-session cycles of noninvasive brain stimulation with the REAC, according to an established therapeutic protocol called neuropsycho-physical optimization.
Results: Analyzing the anxiety and avoidance parameters of the AS after the first and second cycles of REAC treatment revealed variation in levels of response to treatment, including weak (AS item 7), moderate (AS items 10 and 13), and good responses (AS items 1-6, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 14-20).
Conclusion: These results highlight the potential of the REAC to treat complex clinical situations such as agoraphobia, which is typically resistant to pharmacologic treatments. Furthermore, these data show the advantages of REAC treatment, even compared with modern cognitive behavioral therapy, including a relatively rapid and "stable" clinical response (just over 6 months) and economic cost.
Keywords: REAC; anxiety; avoidance; fear.