What are common comorbidities of panic disorder?

Updated: Mar 21, 2018
  • Author: Mohammed A Memon, MD; Chief Editor: Randon S Welton, MD  more...
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Panic disorder often coexists with mood disorders, and mood symptoms potentially follow the onset of panic attacks. Lifetime prevalence rates of major depression in panic disorder may be as high as 50-60%. [63] Other psychiatric disorders that occur comorbidity with panic disorder include schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, specific phobias, social phobia, and agoraphobia. [60]

There are also medical conditions that apparently share significant comorbidity with panic disorder, such as COPD, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headache, restless leg syndrome, and fatigue. [20, 21] Cardiovascular disorders (e.g., mitral valve prolapse, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, stroke) are also comorbid factors [22] ; panic patients are nearly twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease. Patients with both panic disorder and coronary disease can experience myocardial ischemia during their panic episodes [23, 24] ; thus, panic disorder is also associated with a higher risk of sudden death. [25] In addition, panic disorder is also present in 30% of patients with chest pain and normal findings on angiography, and individuals with panic disorder tend to have lower oxygen consumption and exercise tolerance than does the general population. [26]

Asthma is linked to a 4.5-fold increase in the risk of developing panic disorder, and people with panic disorder are 6 times as likely as those without anxiety disorders to develop asthma. [64] Patients with panic disorder can also have migraine headaches (12.7%), tension headaches (5.5%), and combined migraine and tension headaches (14.2%). [65] The lifetime prevalence of panic disorder in people with epilepsy is 6.6%. [66]

Approximately 10-20% of patients with anxiety disorder abuse alcohol and other drugs, and about 10-40% of alcoholics have a panic-related anxiety disorder. [67]

Pregnant mothers with panic disorder during pregnancy are more likely to have preterm labor and infants of smaller birth-weight for gestational age. [27]

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