Cognitive Behavioral Therapy vs Medication

As a matter of interest we have listed below excerpts from a number of studies.

'Studies comparing the relative efficacy of pharmacologic and cognitive behavioral interventions report panic-free rates above 80% for cognitive behavioral interventions and between 50% and 60% for pharmacotherapy' (3)

A Spanish study assessed the cost before and after diagnosis and treatment of 61 people with Panic Disorder. The treatment involved psychotropic drugs including 'Alprazolam (Xanax) tricyclic anti depressants also MOAI' Direct costsprior to diagnosis were $US 29,158; After diagnosis, $US 46,256; Indirect cost prior to diagnosis were $US 65,643; after diagnosis, $13, 883. The increase in Direct costs were associated to the number of psychiatrist consultations which grew from 40 prior to diagnosis to 793 after diagnosis. (7)

In comparison, a German study looked at the cost-effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy involving 66 people with Panic Disorder. At a three year follow up, anxiety-related health care costs, direct and indirect, decreased by 81%. 'Taking the cost of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy into account the cost-benefit ratio for the first two years was 1:5.6. Thus one dollar spent for Cognitive behavioral treatment yielded a saving of 5.6 dollars in anxiety-related costs'.(6)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the Red Herrings

Study compares the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy vs psychiatric medication to treat panic disorder.Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be classified as a 'talking therapy' and in a few instances it has been implied that it is not as successful as some other therapies offered. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is very proactive. It is not so much as just talking with your therapist, CBT encourages you to take a direct personal approach to work through the negative cycles of thinking.

There is also perception that those of us who have recovered from Panic Disorder by using CBT:

(a) didn't have 'Real' Panic Disorder in the first place. (How one distinguishes between 'Real and Unreal' Panic Disorder is something we have yet to discover! It apparently means that although we meet all the criteria for 'Real' Panic Disorder the fact we have recovered means it was Unreal!);
(b) are in remission (except we don't know it!)

We need to remember, CBT is a relatively new therapy. In the past, many health professionals did not see people recover from their disorder and some therapists are still not aware that people can recover.

If you are told your particular therapist has used CBT with little success, it may be your therapist doesn't have the skills required to teach their patients!

If we are prepared to do the work involved, CBT can give us back our lives, not just in the short-term, but in the long-term.

next: Cued Panic Attacks
~ all articles on insights into anxiety
~ anxiety-panic library articles
~ all anxiety disorders articles

APA Reference
Gluck, S. (2008, October 2). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy vs Medication, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Last Updated: July 1, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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