Suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in panic disorder and social phobia
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OBJECTIVE: Using the original National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) suicide questions in a clinical setting and including a comparison group of patients with social phobia, the authors attempted to replicate the finding of Weissman and associates of a greater risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts associated with panic disorder. METHOD: One hundred six patients with panic disorder and 41 patients with social phobia answered the five ECA suicide questions and completed a psychometric assessment package at an anxiety disorders clinic. RESULTS: Thirty-three (31%) of the patients with panic disorder and 14 (34%) of the patients with social phobia reported suicidal ideation in the past year, but only one of the patients with panic disorder and two of the patients with social phobia actually made suicide attempts in the past year. Nineteen (18%) of the patients with panic disorder and five (12%) of the patients with social phobia reported making suicide attempts at other times in their lives. Patients who had made past suicide attempts were significantly more likely to report previous psychiatric hospitalizations and past treatment for depression than were patients who had never attempted suicide. CONCLUSIONS: These results are consistent with the findings of Weissman and associates that a large proportion of individuals with panic disorder report suicidal ideation. However, many patients with social phobia also reported suicidal ideation, and few individuals in either diagnostic group had actually made recent suicide attempts. Although 12%-18% of the patients reported lifetime suicide attempts, there is evidence to suggest that these were in the context of depressive symptoms.
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