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Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2003 Sep;61(3B):718-22. Epub 2003 Oct 28.

Panic disorder in a breath-holding challenge test: a simple tool for a better diagnosis.

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Laboratory of Panic & Respiration, Institute of Psychiatry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.



Our aim was to observe if anxiety disorder patients - DSM-IV - respond in a similar way to the induction of panic attacks by a breath-holding challenge test.


We randomly selected 29 panic disorder (PD) patients, 27 social anxiety disorder (SAD) patients, 21 generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) patients. They were induced to breath-hold for as long as possible four times with two-minute interval between them. Anxiety scales were applied before and after the test.


A total of 44.8% (n=13) PD patients, 14.8% (n=4) SAD patients, 9.5% (n=2) GAD patients had a panic attack after the test (c = 21.44, df= 2, p=0.001). There was no heart rate or anxiety levels difference among the groups before and after the test.


In this breath-holding challenge test the panic disorder patients were more sensitive than other anxiety disorder patients.

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