Based on a 21-year study of young adults from ages 19 to 40 that utilized regular follow-up interviews, researchers found a long-term (longitudinal) relationship between asthma and panic in a community sample of 591 men and women.
The researchers found that asthma was more strongly associated with panic disorder than with any panic, which included both panic disorder and panic attack. The investigators said that active asthma predicted subsequent panic disorder and panic disorder predicted subsequent asthma activity.
The 591 subjects who participated (292 men and 299 women) were selected from a larger screening sample called the Zurich Cohort Study, named for the canton where they lived in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1978, the participants were assessed using a psychological symptom questionnaire, a symptom checklist, and a questionnaire designed to yield demographic data. The present study was based on a stratified sample, a subset of the larger study, and an overrepresentation of risk cases for psychiatric disorder. The initial screening took place at age 19 for participants, with the first and second interviews in 1979 and 1981, the third and fourth interviews in 1986 and 1988, the fifth interview in 1993, and the sixth and final interview in 1999. Over the 20 years, more than 62 percent of the original group continued to participate in the research.
According to the authors, the 20-year cumulative prevalence of asthma was 7.3 percent and of panic disorder 7.8 percent. When participants were asked about any type of panic, the percentage soared almost three times higher to 20.5 percent.
The authors said that having asthma, which can be potentially a life-threatening condition, could increase the level of anxiety which might lead in some vulnerable individuals to panic. Moreover, asthma medications can have anxiety-causing properties and anxiety may further enhance the
Contact: Cathy Carlomagno
American Thoracic Society