Panic Disorder not Linked to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Samantha S. | Updated: Aug 02, 2016


Review on June 05, 2009

The psychiatric community recently thought that a panic disorder, especially panic attacks during or immediately after a traumatic experience, was a predictor of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. But a new study has debunked those conclusions, instead finding no link between panic disorder and future PTSD.

panic disorder stress

Far stronger determinants than panic disorder for developing PTSD are past depression episodes, lack of a close friend and family support system, and low self-esteem, said the Geisinger Health System researchers.

Panic Disorder, and some of the symptoms of PTSD, entails shortness of breath, sweating, tremors, pounding heart, changes in body temperature, and disorientation.

The study, led by Joseph Boscarino based in Danville, Pa., looked into individuals with panic disorder or who experienced panic attacks during the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks.

Researchers had four main findings:

  • Panic disorder occurred most prominently with ages 30 to 44.
  • Those with the highest levels of education were least likely to have panic disorder than people less educated.
  • Hispanics had the highest likelihood of having panic disorder than any other ethnicity.
  • Thirty percent of those who had panic disorder after the attacks had episodes of depression prior to the event.
  • The findings indicate that several factors combine to cause PTSD, and that panic disorder during a traumatic situation is only one factor.

Researchers warned that doctors should look at various aspects on mental-health stress in those who have just gone through a traumatic event, such as not sleeping, rather than simply panic disorder at the time of the event.

Researchers also encouraged trauma victims to seek counseling immediately to lessen their chances of PTSD.

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