Status: Modest Research Support/Controversial
Psychoanalytic treatment for panic disorder attempts to uncover the unconscious psychological meaning of panic; the treatment often focuses on psychodynamic conflicts that include separation/autonomy and anger expression/management. Psychoanalytic treatment for panic disorder also utilizes transference to work through unconscious conflicts.
The evidence for psychoanalytic treatment for panic disorder is somewhat controversial, insofar as the conceptual basis for this treatment has not been tested. That is, although psychoanalytic psychotherapy appears to work, it is not yet clear that the treatment works via the reduction of unconscious conflicts – the proposed mechanisms of change.
For a brief commentary on psychoanalytic psychotherapy for panic, see: McKay, D., Abramowitz, J., & Taylor, S., & Deacon, B. (2007). Evolving treatments for Panic Disorder, American Journal of Psychiatry, 164, 976-977.
Key References (in reverse chronological order)
Milrod, B., Leon, A.C., Busch, F., et al. (2007). A randomized controlled clinical trial of psychoanalytic psychotherapy for panic disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 164, 265-272.
Milrod, B., & Shear, M.K. (1991). Dynamic treatment of panic disorder: A review. Journal of Mental Disorders, 179, 741-743.
Milrod, B., Busch, F., Cooper, A., & Shapiro, T. (1997). Manual of Panic-Focused Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Division 39 of the American Psychological Association is the Division of Psychoanalysis, which offers links to clinical resources and newsletters.
The Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research at Columbia University (http://www.columbiapsychoanalytic.org/training.html)
The Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (http://www.iptar.org/).