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Stress hormone response to the DEX-CRH test and its relation to psychotherapy outcome in panic disorder patients with and without agoraphobia


Wichmann, Susann; Bornstein, Stefan R; Lorenz, Thomas; Petrowski, Katja (2018). Stress hormone response to the DEX-CRH test and its relation to psychotherapy outcome in panic disorder patients with and without agoraphobia. Translational Psychiatry, 8(1):37.

Abstract

This study tested whether the hormonal stress response to the DEX-CRH test may be predictive of the psychotherapy success for panic disorder (PD). Thirty-four patients diagnosed either with agoraphobia with PD or PD without agoraphobia were subjected to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Patients (pre-therapy) and healthy volunteers were exposed to the DEX-CRH test. Blood samples were taken for cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) assessment. Established panic-specific questionnaires were handed out for the pre-therapy and post-therapy evaluation of disease severity (with reference to panic beliefs and agoraphobic cognitions, fear of bodily sensations, agoraphobic avoidance behaviour). Repeated measures ANCOVA were conducted for the analysis of the pre-therapy hormonal response, and Pearson's correlation analysis to test for associations with the psychotherapy outcome. Data analyses revealed large effect sizes for CBT in the clinical measures (η2 ≥ 0.321), main effects of time for cortisol and ACTH with no differences between both groups, and significant associations between cortisol release and agoraphobic cognitions for the patients. PD diagnosis had no impact on the hormonal response. However, those patients with higher cortisol release showed less improvement after CBT (significantly for agoraphobic cognitions). Clinical implications of these findings are the prediction of the therapy success from a potential endocrine correlate whose persistency (if assessed repeatedly) during the treatment may predict (non-)response to the current treatment, possibly representing a decision support for a change in treatment to avoid the continuation of an inefficient treatment.

Abstract

This study tested whether the hormonal stress response to the DEX-CRH test may be predictive of the psychotherapy success for panic disorder (PD). Thirty-four patients diagnosed either with agoraphobia with PD or PD without agoraphobia were subjected to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Patients (pre-therapy) and healthy volunteers were exposed to the DEX-CRH test. Blood samples were taken for cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) assessment. Established panic-specific questionnaires were handed out for the pre-therapy and post-therapy evaluation of disease severity (with reference to panic beliefs and agoraphobic cognitions, fear of bodily sensations, agoraphobic avoidance behaviour). Repeated measures ANCOVA were conducted for the analysis of the pre-therapy hormonal response, and Pearson's correlation analysis to test for associations with the psychotherapy outcome. Data analyses revealed large effect sizes for CBT in the clinical measures (η2 ≥ 0.321), main effects of time for cortisol and ACTH with no differences between both groups, and significant associations between cortisol release and agoraphobic cognitions for the patients. PD diagnosis had no impact on the hormonal response. However, those patients with higher cortisol release showed less improvement after CBT (significantly for agoraphobic cognitions). Clinical implications of these findings are the prediction of the therapy success from a potential endocrine correlate whose persistency (if assessed repeatedly) during the treatment may predict (non-)response to the current treatment, possibly representing a decision support for a change in treatment to avoid the continuation of an inefficient treatment.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Endocrinology and Diabetology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2 February 2018
Deposited On:09 Mar 2018 11:07
Last Modified:01 Apr 2018 01:23
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2158-3188
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-017-0081-7
PubMed ID:29391399

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