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Specificity in Familial Aggregation of Phobic Disorders

Abby J. Fyer, MD; Salvatore Mannuzza, PhD; Tim F. Chapman, PhD; Lynn Y. Martin, RNCS; Donald F. Klein, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1995;52(7):564-573. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1995.03950190046007.
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Background:  To investigate whether each of three DSM-III-R phobic disorders (simple phobia, social phobia, and agoraphobia with panic attacks) is familial and "breeds true."

Design:  Rates of each phobic disorder were contrasted in first-degree relatives of four proband groups: simple phobia, social phobia, agoraphobia with panic attacks, and not ill controls. Phobia probands were patients who had one of the phobia diagnoses but no other lifetime anxiety comorbidity.

Results:  We found moderate (two- to fourfold increased risk) but specific familial aggregation of each of the three DSM-III-R phobic disorders.

Conclusions:  These results support a specific familial contribution to each of the three phobia types. However, conclusions are limited to cases occurring without lifetime anxiety comorbidity and do not imply homogeneity within categories.

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