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Agoraphobia With Panic Attacks Development, Diagnostic Stability, and Course of Illness

Alan Breier, MD; Dennis S. Charney, MD; George R. Heninger, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986;43(11):1029-1036. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800110015003.
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• A structured psychiatric interview was used to examine the symptom history of 55 patients meeting DSM-III criteria for agoraphobia with panic attacks and five patients meeting DSM-III criteria for panic disorder. Anticipatory anxiety and generalized anxiety occurred in over 80% of the patients, and these anxiety states together with panic attacks and phobic avoidances had courses that were chronic and unremitting. Major depression occurred in 70% of the patients and had an episodic course that differentiated it from the anxiety states. Other frequently reported disorders were childhood separation disorder (18%), alcoholism (17%), and obsessive compulsive disorder (17%). An initial nonspontaneous first panic attack and separation anxiety was associated with earlier onset and longer duration of agoraphobia and panic disorder. An inaccurate cognitive appraisal of the initial panic attack frequently led to the rapid development of subsequent agoraphobia. Caffeine consumption exacerbated anxiety in 54% of the patients and triggered panic attacks in 17%. Fifty-one percent of female agoraphobics experienced premenstrual exacerbation of anxiety symptoms.


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