Which mental status exam (MSE) findings suggest panic disorder?

Updated: Mar 27, 2019
  • Author: Nita V Bhatt, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Answer

The mental status examination may reveal an anxious-appearing person, although this is not required for diagnosis. Speech may reflect anxiety or urgency, or it may sound normal. Mood may be described as similar to “anxious,” with congruent affect. Incongruent affect should raise consideration for other diagnostic possibilities. Thought processes should be logical, linear, and goal directed. Thought content is particularly important to specifically assess in order to ensure a patient has no suicidal or homicidal thoughts. Acute anxiety, as a form of acute mental anguish, can lead to unsafe or self-injurious behavior. Abnormalities in thought process or thought content (aside from impulsive suicidal thoughts) should prompt reconsideration of other etiologies. Insight and judgment are usually present and intact.


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