International study of expert judgement on therapeutic use of benzodiazepines and other psychotherapeutic medications: II. Pharmacotherapy of anxiety disorders.
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To assemble expert clinical experience and judgement in the treatment of anxiety and related disorders in a systematic, quantitative manner.A panel of internationally recognized Experts in treating anxiety and depression was constituted by multistage peer nomination. 90% completed a questionnaire. This report focuses on case vignettes of 7 anxiety disorders followed by questions about relevant therapeutic options.Panelists usually recommended both psychological and pharmacological interventions. Most favored antidepressants, usually tricyclic, for agoraphobia, panic and OCD; beta-blockers for specific social phobia; and benzodiazepines for GAD and adjustment disorder. Some Experts favored polypharmacy, usually an antidepressant and a benzodiazepine. The majority usually advocated pharmacotherapy for 6 months or more. They recommended the same duration of treatment with benzodiazepines and other medications, except for GAD.The responses of the Expert Panel imply that; (1) most anxiety disorders are serious and merit vigorous, prolonged pharmacotherapy; and (2) antidepressants and benzodiazepines are effective and safe for long-term treatment of these conditions. This outcome contrasts with the widespread apprehension about long-term pharmacotherapy, especially with benzodiazepines, and some regulatory views.