International study of expert judgment on therapeutic use of benzodiazepines and other psychotherapeutic medications: III. Clinical features affecting experts' therapeutic recommendations in anxiety disorders.
Additional Document Info
Our objective was to assemble expert clinical experience and judgment in the treatment of anxiety and related disorders in a systematic, quantitative manner. This article reports on some clinical features apart from diagnosis that may affect choice of strategy in the pharmacotherapy of anxiety disorders. A panel of internationally recognized experts in treating anxiety and depression was constituted by multistage peer nomination. Ninety percent (66 of 73) completed an extensive questionnaire. This report focuses on the expert panel's responses to questions on therapeutic options, based on multi-part case vignettes of several anxiety disorders presenting clinical variations within the same diagnosis. In the presence of higher levels of functional impairment, the experts more often recommended formal psychosocial procedures for adjustment disorder; medication for agoraphobia, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and adjustment disorder; and polypharmacy for agoraphobia. Their therapeutic recommendations were not materially affected by chronicity in the case of panic disorder. Under the condition of heavy use of alcohol in the case of generalized anxiety disorder, the experts avoided benzodiazepines in favor of various other medications. In the presence of a serious cardiac conduction defect in the case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, they less often recommended medication. Those who did recommend medication changed their preference from tricyclic antidepressants (clomipramine) to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Under the condition of a more severe precipitating event in the case of adjustment disorder, the experts were more likely to recommend both formal psychosocial intervention and medication.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)