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Increased Anxiogenic Effects of Caffeine in Panic Disorders

Dennis S. Charney, MD; George R. Heninger, MD; Peter I. Jatlow, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1985;42(3):233-243. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1985.01790260027003.
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• The effects of oral administration of caffeine (10 mg/kg) on behavioral ratings, somatic symptoms, blood pressure and plasma levels of 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenethyleneglycol (MHPG) and cortisol were determined in 17 healthy subjects and 21 patients meeting DSM-III criteria for agoraphobia with panic attacks or panic disorder. Caffeine produced significantly greater increases in subject-rated anxiety, nervousness, fear, nausea, palpitations, restlessness, and tremors in the patients compared with healthy subjects. In the patients, but not the healthy subjects, these symptoms were significantly correlated with plasma caffeine levels. Seventyone percent of the patients reported that the behavioral effects of caffeine were similar to those experienced during panic attacks. Caffeine did not alter plasma MHPG levels in either the healthy subjects or patients. Caffeine increased plasma cortisol levels equally in the patient and healthy groups. Because caffeine is an adenosine receptor antagonist, these results suggest that some panic disorder patients may have abnormalities in neuronal systems involving adenosine. Patients with anxiety disorders may benefit by avoiding caffeine-con taining foods and beverages.


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