Previous reports on heart rate variability suggest that, compared to controls, panic disorder patients have a higher relative mid-frequency (MF) (0.07–0.15 Hz) power in standing posture and that they also have a greater increase in standing MF power after the administration of yohimbine. We studied the effects of nortriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant, on HR variability measures in 13 panic disorder patients before and after successful treatment. There was a highly significant increase in supine and standing HR (p = 0.00001) while there was a significant decrease of standing absolute and relative MF power (p = 0.009 and 0.0001 respectively). This uncontrolled preliminary study suggests a decrease in sympathetic activity related to nortriptyline treatment in addition to its anticholinergic effects.

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