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Eur Psychiatry. 1999 Mar;14(1):54-6.

Panic disorder and memory: does panic disorder result from memory dysfunction?

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Ankara Universitesi, Tip Fak├╝ltesi Psikiyatri Anabilim Dali, Cebeci Ankara, Turkey.


It is proposed that patients with panic disorder have a defect in fear-relevant episodic memory, and their panic attacks arise from automaticity in recollecting fear-relevant emotional-autonomic cluster. The cluster as a component of fear appears to have been dissociated from cognitive structure (episodic or informative memory trace) or from "information structure". A special method was created for testing this hypothesis where 30 panic disorder patients, 12 healthy controls, and 32 patients with other psychiatric diagnoses were asked to recall and describe a fearful experience. None of the patients in the panic disorder group could recall any fearful event or episode in their past. All but one subject among healthy controls and all the subjects in the non-panic group could recall one or more fearful event or episode. Possible theoretical implications of these results are discussed in the context of some classical concepts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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