An examination of levels of agoraphobic severity in panic disorder Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Based on the results of previous studies, several factors believed to be related to the development of agoraphobia were simultaneously assessed in 195 panic disorder patients (57 males, 138 females) with various levels of DSM-III-R-defined agoraphobia: none, mild, moderate, or severe. The four groups of patients significantly differed from each other on self-reports of phobic avoidance, although all the groups reported a similar type of panic attack. The four groups also did not significantly differ on catastrophic panic cognitions (e.g. fear of dying), fear of anxiety symptoms (anxiety sensitivity), or variables related to spontaneous panic. Neither severity or frequency of panic was predictive of severity of agoraphobia. The anticipation of panic only in relation to agoraphobic situations was predictive of severity of agoraphobia, followed by perceived lifestyle restrictions due to panic, and trait anxiety regarding ambiguous or novel situations. Regardless of level of agoraphobia, patients tended to avoid situations where they anticipated panic would occur, indicating that panic and agoraphobia do not share a unique or exclusive relationship. Panic disorder with various levels of phobic avoidance, rather than just agoraphobia, would appear to be a more valid diagnostic category.

publication date

  • January 1995