Relevance of assessment of cognitions during panic attacks in the treatment of panic disorder

Abraham Bakker, Philip Spinhoven, Anton J.L.M. Van Balkom, Richard Van Dyck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In this paper the effects of cognitive therapy on the belief in causal catastrophical misinterpretations (CCMs) of bodily sensations in panic disorder patients were studied. Methods: CCMs were formulated at the start of treatment and assessed at every treatment session for credibility during panic attacks and during that session. The relation between the belief in CCMs and other measures of panic was also studied. Sixty-six patients rated their belief in 1-3 CCMs during treatment with cognitive therapy. They also filled in questionnaires (ACQ and BSQ) at the start and end of treatment and kept a panic diary. Results: The belief in CCMs diminished significantly in the course of treatment. A significant correlation between panic frequency and belief in CCMs during panic attacks, but not during treatment sessions, was found. Relations between improvement in panic frequency, ACQ- and BSQ-scores on the one hand and belief in CCMs on the other, also revealed significant correlations with belief ratings during panic attacks only. Conclusions: Especially ratings of belief during panic attacks are important in assessing the outcome of cognitive therapy in panic disorder. This measure can be considered as a severity measure. Belief in CCMs during treatment sessions seems to have little clinical significance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-161
Number of pages4
JournalPsychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Agoraphobia
  • Assessment
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Panic disorder
  • Psychotherapy
  • Treatment

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