The Impact of Personality Pathology on Treatment Outcome in Late-life Panic Disorder

Bernice Gulpers*, Richard C. Oude Voshaar, Mirjam Kampman, Frans Verhey, Sebastiaan Van Alphen, Gert-Jan Hendriks

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Comorbid personality disorders are assumed to negatively interfere with the treatment outcome of affective disorders. Data on late-life panic disorder remain unknown. We examined the association of personality pathology and treatment outcome related to age and treatment modality. Methods: An observational study on the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for panic disorder with agoraphobia among patients 18 to 74 years of age and randomized controlled comparison of paroxetine and CBT in older patients (60 y of age or older) were performed. The diagnosis of panic disorder was confirmed by the Anxiety Disorder Interview Schedule-Revised (ADIS-IV) and personality features were assessed with the Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire. The impact of personality features on either agoraphobic cognitions (Agoraphobic Cognitions Questionnaire) or avoidance behavior (Mobility Inventory Avoidance Scale) was examined by multiple linear regression analyses adjusted for sex, level of education, duration of illness, comorbid psychopathology, and baseline severity. The interaction between personality and age was examined among those treated with CBT (n=90); the interaction between personality and treatment modality was examined among the older subgroup (n=34). Results: Cluster B personality pathology (evaluated on the basis of either Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, Revised (DSM-III-R) or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) criteria depending on the date of assessment) was negatively associated with outcomes of CBT in both younger and older adults with panic disorder and agoraphobia. Older adults with a higher number of features of any personality pathology or cluster A pathology had worse treatment outcomes when treated with paroxetine compared with CBT. Conclusions: Cluster B pathology had a detrimental effect on CBT treatment outcome for panic disorder in both age groups. In late-life panic disorder with comorbid personality pathology, CBT may be preferred over treatment with paroxetine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-174
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • panic disorder
  • agoraphobia
  • personality disorders
  • elderly
  • treatment outcome

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