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Psychiatry Res. 2013 Oct 30;209(3):574-8. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2013.04.012. Epub 2013 Jun 15.

Characteristics of individuals meeting criteria for new onset panic attacks following exposure to a typhoon.

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Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA. Electronic address:


The association between trauma exposure and panic attacks has received increased attention over the past decade, with mounting evidence suggesting an overlapping etiologic pathway. This study examined the incidence of new onset panic attacks in 775 Vietnamese individuals in the 2-3 months following Typhoon Xangsane. Pre-typhoon (Wave 1) and post-typhoon (Wave 2) assessments were conducted, allowing for consideration of factors occurring prior to the typhoon in addition to typhoon-relevant responding. Of the 775 participants, 11.6% (n=90) met criteria for lifetime panic attack pre-typhoon and 2.8% (n=22) met post-typhoon panic attack criteria. Individuals with pre-typhoon panic were significantly older and reported less education compared to the no-panic group. Individuals in both panic groups were more likely to screen positive on a Wave1 psychiatric screening measure, endorse greater typhoon exposure and prior traumatic event exposure and were significantly more likely to meet DSM-IV criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression (MDD) post-typhoon compared with persons reporting no history of panic attacks. Pre and post-typhoon panic exhibited similar patterns across variables and both panic conditions were associated with the development of PTSD and MDD, suggesting that persons experiencing panic attacks may represent a vulnerable population in need of early intervention services.


Anxiety; Depression; General population; Incidence; Natural disaster; Panic attacks; Trauma

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