Panic attacks increase psychosis risk

People who suffer from panic attacks during adolescence appear to have a significantly increased risk of developing symptoms of psychosis as young adults, study findings reveal

While much of the relationship between panic attacks and psychosis appears to be explained by common risk factors and psychiatric comorbidity, Renee Goodwin (Columbia University, New York, USA) and colleagues note that their findings also suggested an independent association.

The team analyzed data from a 21-year study involving 1265 individuals to determine the association between panic attacks in adolescence (age 15-21 years) and symptoms of psychosis during young adulthood.

The results, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, showed that the rate of psychotic symptoms was 2.81 times higher among people aged 18 years who experienced a panic attack in the preceding 3 years than for those who did not.

Similarly, having a panic attack during adolescence increased the rate of such symptoms three fold among individuals aged 21 years.

The researchers found that the association could be explained, at least in part, by common risk factors, including depression, social phobia, agoraphobia, alcohol dependence, cannabis dependence, previous level of psychoticism, deviant peer affiliations, family conflict, family socioeconomic status, life events in the past 12 months, and neuroticism.

They note, however, that, even after controlling for such confounding factors, young people prone to panic attacks had psychotic symptom rates that were still 1.5 times higher than those not prone to attacks.

“These findings provide some evidence that this link is not simply due to a relationship between psychoticism and psychiatric morbidity in general but that there is specificity in the link between panic and psychoticism,” the researchers conclude.

Posted by bbeard on 01/21 at 05:38 PM in Blogging

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