Co2 inhalation in the treatment of panic attacks

Eric Griez*, Marcel A. van Den Hout

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


If panic disorder is conceptualized as a fear of interoceptive sensations, it can be treated by exposure to the autonomic symptoms that are induced by CO2 inhalation. In a cross-over study of 14 patients, propranolol was used as a control treatment. CO2 produced a significant reduction of fear of autonomic panic sensations, state and trait anxiety, agoraphobic anxiety and avoidance, and of the frequency of panicking. Propranolol resulted in improvements of state and of agoraphobic anxiety. Except for Trait Anxiety, CO2 was superior on all measures, most clearly on the Fear of Autonomic Sensations. At the 6-month follow-up, 3 patients required further treatment. Except for State Anxiety, the improvements were, on average, maintained. The clinical and theoretical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-150
Number of pages6
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1986


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