Objective: This study determined the efficacy and safety of sertraline in the treatment of patients with panic disorder.
Method: The study was a randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, flexible-dose comparison of sertraline and placebo in outpatients with a DSM-III-R diagnosis of panic disorder with or without agoraphobia. After a 2-week single-blind placebo lead-in, 168 patients entered a 10-week double-blind phase in which they were randomly assigned to treatment with either sertraline or placebo.
Results: Sertraline was significantly more effective than placebo in decreasing the number of full and limited-symptom panic attacks. Among patients who completed the study, the mean number of panic attacks per week dropped by 88% in the sertraline-treated patients and 53% in the placebo-treated patients. Sertraline-treated patients also had significantly more improvement than placebo-treated patients in scores on the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire, patient global evaluation, and Clinical Global Impression severity of illness and global improvement scales. Overall, patients tolerated sertraline well, and only 9% terminated treatment because of side effects.
Conclusions: Sertraline is an effective and well-tolerated treatment for patients with panic disorder.