Pretreatment with imipramine, buspirone, or placebo was compared in 40 patients meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Revised Third Edition criteria for panic disorder and in patients who were discontinuing long-term benzodiazepine use. The average duration of benzodiazepine use was 75 +/- 64 months, and the average benzodiazepine intake expressed as diazepam equivalents was 25.7 +/- 19 mg/d. We hypothesized that pretreatment with either imipramine or buspirone, in contrast to pretreatment with placebo, would lead to a significant decrease of symptoms of anxiety and depression before tapering benzodiazepines, thus making the taper process easier to complete. All 3 treatments (imipramine, buspirone, and placebo) caused a reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms as measured by changes in the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Neither discontinuation severity nor taper-free status 12 weeks posttaper differed between the 3 treatment groups.
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