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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006 Apr;63(4):415-24.

The epidemiology of panic attacks, panic disorder, and agoraphobia in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.

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  • 1Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Only limited information exists about the epidemiology of DSM-IV panic attacks (PAs) and panic disorder (PD).


To present nationally representative data about the epidemiology of PAs and PD with or without agoraphobia (AG) on the basis of the US National Comorbidity Survey Replication findings.


Nationally representative face-to-face household survey conducted using the fully structured World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview.


English-speaking respondents (N=9282) 18 years or older.


Respondents who met DSM-IV lifetime criteria for PAs and PD with and without AG.


Lifetime prevalence estimates are 22.7% for isolated panic without AG (PA only), 0.8% for PA with AG without PD (PA-AG), 3.7% for PD without AG (PD only), and 1.1% for PD with AG (PD-AG). Persistence, lifetime number of attacks, and number of years with attacks increase monotonically across these 4 subgroups. All 4 subgroups are significantly comorbid with other lifetime DSM-IV disorders, with the highest odds for PD-AG and the lowest for PA only. Scores on the Panic Disorder Severity Scale are also highest for PD-AG (86.3% moderate or severe) and lowest for PA only (6.7% moderate or severe). Agoraphobia is associated with substantial severity, impairment, and comorbidity. Lifetime treatment is high (from 96.1% for PD-AG to 61.1% for PA only), but 12-month treatment meeting published treatment guidelines is low (from 54.9% for PD-AG to 18.2% for PA only).


Although the major societal burden of panic is caused by PD and PA-AG, isolated PAs also have high prevalence and meaningful role impairment.

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