Suffering a panic attack? Go online


Sydney : The Net has its uses, even in treating patients suffering from psychological disorders, a new study has found.

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Online psychological treatment, or e-therapy, has been found to be as good as personal therapy in treating panic and panic related symptoms.

“Mental illness is a growing problem worldwide… and the management of anxiety and depression generally falls to family doctors who may lack the time and resources to deliver appropriate psychological treatment to their patients,” said the study’s co-author Kerrie Shandley.

“So other methods for delivering effective therapy need to be developed,” she added.

The study found that when panic disorder sufferers used the e-therapy programme ‘Panic Online’ along with support from a general practitioner, their panic disorder and related symptoms were reduced, with 30 percent losing their symptoms altogether.

The study followed 96 people with a primary diagnosis of panic disorder who completed the ‘Panic Online’ programme over 12 weeks.

Fifty-three of the participants had face-to-face assistance from their GP, who had received specialist training in cognitive behavioural therapy, and 43 had assistance from a clinical psychologist via e-mail.

The participants completed a phone interview conducted by a psychologist and a series of online questionnaires to assess panic-related symptoms over the course of the treatment and at a six-month follow-up.

“Both groups were shown to significantly improve over time,” Shandley said.

“There were no noticeable differences between the participants who had assistance from their GP and those who had assistance from a clinical psychologist.”

These findings were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.