Individuals with Asthma appear to have an increased risk of developing Panic disorder, and the presence of panic disorder predicts subsequent asthma activity, according to new research.
Given these findings, “a psychiatric evaluation in patients with chronic asthma is necessary to provide the best treatment possible,” Dr. Gregor Hasler told.
Hasler from the National Institute of Mental Health In Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues investigated the association between asthma and panic disorder in 591 young adults between the ages of 19 and 40 years. The researchers report their results in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
They found that 20.9 percent of the subjects with asthma had panic disorder and 32.6 percent had a Panic disorder or panic attacks. Similarly, 19.6 percent of individuals with panic disorder had asthma, and 11.6 percent of those with any panic condition had asthma.
Asthma was associated with a 4.5-fold increase in the risk of subsequent panic disorder, and the presence of panic disorder was associated with a 6.3-fold increase in the risk of subsequent asthma activity.
Similar but less marked associations were also seen between asthma and the development of any panic condition, the researchers note, but any panic condition did not predict subsequent asthma.
“An evaluation of panic and other anxiety symptoms, including avoidance symptoms, is necessary in asthma patients,” Hasler said. More research is needed to improve the accuracy of diagnosis and to evaluate anti-panic treatments in patients with asthma and panic conditions.
Hasler added that since the publication of this study, he has received some interesting emails from patients with asthma who may also have a panic condition.
“They found out themselves that breathing exercises, monitoring of respiratory symptoms, awareness of cognitive and emotional factors, reduction of caffeine consumption, and (other techniques) helped them - all methods they were never told about by their physicians treating their Asthma, but methods successfully used in the treatment of panic,” he said.
“This shows me that at least some asthma patients would be willing to get evaluated regarding emotional/psychological factors and symptoms and would accept specific treatments for them.”
SOURCE: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, June 2005.
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.