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Behav Res Ther. 1997 Feb;35(2):109-16.

Nonclinical panic and suicidality: prevalence and psychopathology.

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Department of Psychology, University of Louisville, KY 40292, USA.


Recent epidemiological studies have reported an increased risk of suicide in patients with panic disorder, raising the possibility that there may be a unique relationship between panic and suicide. However, other studies, such as large chart reviews, have not found a meaningful increase in suicidal behavior among panic patients, except in these patients with comorbid borderline personality diagnoses. The present study examined nonclinical panickers to explore the specificity of the relationship between panic and suicide. Six hundred and twenty-seven undergraduates were surveyed to assess experiences of panic, suicidal behavior in relation to panic and general levels of pathology. Forty-two percent of the sample had experienced at least one panic attack in the past year, and of those 18% had considered suicide and 2.65% had made a suicide attempt in relation to their panic attacks. In comparison to nonclinical panickers who did not consider suicide, ideating nonclinical panickers had more frequent attacks, considered their attacks to be more severe, and viewed themselves as more fearful and in less control of their attacks. They also endorsed significantly higher levels of pathology across every dimension assessed. Results are discussed in terms of the prevalence of suicidal ideation among nonclinical samples, associated psychopathology, and extrapolation of the findings to clinical samples allowing development of models to understand the relationship between panic and suicide.

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