The use of the Internet in the treatment of anxiety disorders

Purpose of review: The aim of this article is to review the emerging literature on the use of the Internet in the treatment of anxiety disorders. The questions asked are: (1) are Internet delivered treatments for anxiety disorders supported by the research literature? (2) what is the quality of the evidence as it stands? (3) is there any evidence to suggest that Internet interventions can be harmful?

Recent findings: Recent and ongoing trials on panic disorder show that Internet-based self-help with minimal therapist contact is a promising approach in the treatment of panic disorder. However, trials have been small and there is a need for large scale trials and studies conducted in psychiatric settings as most studies have recruited patients via advertisement. There is no evidence in the literature that Internet interventions is harmful, but most likely a stepped care approach would be feasible to handle cases who fail to respond.

Summary: Internet delivered interventions for anxiety disorders, and in particular panic disorder, are promising. There is however a need for further research and evaluation and there is a need to find a proper place for such interventions in the clinical management of anxiety disorders, preferably using a stepped care approach.