Panic in a general practice population: prevalence, psychiatric comorbidity and associated disability
Background: Panic disorder and simple panic are known to be common disorders associated with various physical and psychological difficulties, but their prevalence rates as reported in the literature vary widely. This paper is the result of a survey of panic in a general practice population, and discusses prevalence rates, screening for panic and psychiatric comorbidity. Comparisons are made between subjects with and without panic with regard to their self-reported disability. Methods: A random sample of 2000 individuals from the patient list of a group general practice were sent a questionnaire screening for panic attacks and asking for levels of everyday functioning and disability. Patients who screened positive for panic were interviewed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM III R. Results: A total of 1152 people responded to the questionnaire. In this sample, the lifetime prevalence of panic was 8.6%, and well over half of these had single or multiple additional psychiatric diagnoses. People with panic were found to perceive themselves as significantly less physically and psychologically healthy. It was found that screening questions that focussed on the psychological symptoms of panic missed a significant proportion of subjects with panic, particularly men. Conclusion: The level of psychiatric comorbidity in this study mirrors that found by other investigators. The amount of perceived disability suffered by individuals with panic is considerable. This study may contribute to the argument that people with panic should be identified at an early stage, to prevent unnecessary investigation and ensure adequate treatment.
KeywordsPrevalence Rate Psychiatric Diagnosis Psychological Symptom Panic Disorder Lifetime Prevalence
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