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- 01 February 2024

Treatment-Resistant Anxiety Disorders: A Definition from the World's Leading Researchers

Published in World Psychiatry, the definition of "Treatment-Resistant Anxiety Disorder" given by leading researchers in the field aims to promote research into treatments that overcome resistance to traditional therapies. Dr. Pallanti is part of the multidisciplinary group of experts.

Anxiety Disorders are the most common group of mental disorders worldwide, with an annual prevalence of 10-14% of the global population. However, only a portion of individuals who suffer from them benefit from the treatments traditionally available for these conditions.

For this reason, a precise and internationally shared definition of Treatment-Resistant Anxiety Disorder becomes essential for the research of new effective therapeutic approaches.

Treatment-Resistant Anxiety DisordersThe study for a shared definition

A multidisciplinary workgroup composed of numerous international experts, including Dr. Stefano Pallanti of the Istituto di Neuroscienze, has joined efforts to outline for the first time the shared operational criteria for the definition of Treatment-Resistant Anxiety Disorder. The study, entitled "The definition of treatment resistance in anxiety disorders: a Delphi method-based consensus guideline", was published in the prestigious journal World Psychiatry, which represents the most important psychiatric journal in the world.

To reach the shared definition, the multidisciplinary workgroup used a state-of-the-art approach based on the "Delphi method", a sophisticated survey technique that allows reaching an objective and shared consensus among experts based on the most up-to-date knowledge on a specific topic.

Thanks to this study, research on Anxiety Disorders will have a valuable tool to allow the design of targeted clinical trials. Thanks to the results obtained by the multidisciplinary workgroup of which Dr. Pallanti is a member, researchers will now be able to test the efficacy of new pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies and innovative treatment options such as Neuromodulation Therapies on a well-identified patient population thanks to the specific criteria provided by the study.

Personalized and Effective TherapiesThe Goal of the Study

The ultimate goal of the work carried out by the multidisciplinary workgroup is to offer guidelines capable of improving the effectiveness and personalization of treatments for patients suffering from Anxiety Disorders that do not respond to traditional therapies.

By providing a common basis for the identification of Treatment-Resistant Anxiety Disorders, the study aims to facilitate the design of more targeted scientific studies that could lead to the development of more specific and personalized treatment algorithms for patients suffering from Treatment-Resistant Anxiety Disorder.

Such an achievement would translate into a significant improvement in patients' quality of life. If not adequately treated, Anxiety Disorders can lead to very disabling levels of distress and significantly limit the personal, social, and work lives of those suffering from them. Furthermore, the health and social costs associated with Anxiety Disorders represent a very significant socio-economic burden. Developing more effective therapies would therefore mean not only being able to help more people who currently do not benefit from the treatments they receive but also reducing the collective socio-economic burden associated with these conditions.

The guidelines outlined by the multidisciplinary research group of which Dr. Pallanti is also a member therefore represent a crucial step towards more personalized treatments for Anxiety Disorders, which will not only improve the quality of care but also allow for more efficient management of healthcare resources. This is a change that could make a difference in the lives of millions of people who suffer from these debilitating disorders.

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