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Message from the President.

The assortment of symptoms that constitute the heart of panic disorder were originally recognized as of medical importance in the 1830’s. Since then, an extensive amount of research has been undertaken both on the etiology and on the therapy for panic disorder. Today the scientific community is in a position to accurately diagnose and effectively treat the panic experience. Yet, a large number of patients throughout the world will live their lives in and out of panic. Eventually they may give up hope and permanently position themselves within the boundaries of psychopathology in one form or another. Why?

It is because there exists a fracture between the amount of knowledge on panic disorder which is available and the amount of that knowledge that is either presented to the general public or informs the clinical practice for the individual sufferer. The most telling proof of the existence of this fracture comes from the hospital emergency room. The doctor on duty is well aware of the medically healthy visitor who misjudged the sudden and unexplained change in his/her heart functioning as a forthcoming catastrophe. Most likely, the patient who has reached the hospital in a state of panic has never before this first crisis even heard the expression “panic attack”.

But even after the patient has left the hospital emergency room in a state of relief and eventually entered the consultation room of the psychotherapist in a state of both dread and hope, the fracture between the knowledge which is available and the knowledge which will be applied is still there. More specifically, many therapeutic efforts to treat panic disorder equate the reduction of the overt symptom with the elimination of the disorder. Thus, they introduce, albeit unperceptively and unknowingly, the possibility of relapse. Other approaches neglect with varying degrees the issue of comorbidity: the net of the psychopathological reality that panic often hides in. Thus, they facilitate the possibility of the premature termination of the therapeutic effort. And yet others purposefully neglect the presenting complain and go deeper too soon. Thus, they keep active a set of symptoms that can actually be removed. These are the main reasons that panic disorder is described in the research literature sometimes as a fully remediable illness, sometimes as a chronic condition.

The primary aim of the International Association for Panic Disorder is to help reduce this fracture and make more of the available knowledge known to the sufferer and his/her family. This aim is served through the following principles:

  • Any statement about Panic Disorder, its etiology and its therapy should be substantiated by strong research evidence.
  • Panic Disorder can be successfully treated through an informed, research-based psychological or psychiatric intervention.
  • When Panic Disorder has become chronic, it is either the comorbid psychopathology of the patient or the fragmentary nature of the therapeutic approach that must be reexamined.

The association welcomes contributions from academics and experts in the field of anxiety and is open to any person who wishes to learn more about Panic Disorder.

 

Pericles Goudopoulos Ph.D

President of the International Association for Panic Disorder

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