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Depress Anxiety. 1999;9(1):19-26.

Frequency of panic attacks and panic disorder in adolescents.

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Center for Rehabilitation Research, University of Bremen, Germany.


By using data from the Bremer Adolescent Study, this report presents findings on the frequency, comorbidity, and psychosocial impairment of panic disorder and panic attacks among 1,035 adolescents. The adolescents were randomly selected from 36 schools in the province of Bremen, Germany. Panic disorder and other psychiatric disorders were coded based on DSM-IV criteria using the computerized-assisted personal interview of the Munich version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Panic disorder occurred rather rare, with only 0.5% of all the adolescents met the DSM-IV criteria for this disorder sometimes in their live. Panic attack occurred more frequently, with 18% of the adolescents reported having had at least one panic attack. Slightly more girls than boys had panic attack and panic disorder. The occurrence of panic attack and panic disorder were the greatest among the 14-15 year olds. The experience of having a panic attack was associated with a number of problems, the most frequent being avoiding the situation for fear of having another attack. Four most common symptoms associated with a panic attack were that of palpitations, trembling/shaking, nausea or abdominal distress, and chills or hot flushes. Panic disorder comorbid highly with other psychiatric disorder covered in our study, especially with that of major depression. Among those with a panic disorder, about 40% of them were severely impaired during the worst episode of their illness. Only one out of five adolescents with panic disorder sought professional help for emotional and psychiatric problems. The implication of our findings for research and clinical practice are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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