Just like everyone else, people with panic disorder have real stress in their lives. They get laid off and they fight with their spouses. How such stresses affect their panic symptoms hasn’t been well understood, but a new study by researchers at Brown University presents the counterintuitive finding that certain kinds of stressful life events cause panic symptoms to increase gradually over succeeding months, rather than to spike immediately.
“We definitely expected the symptoms to get worse over time, but we also thought the symptoms would get worse right away,” said Ethan Moitra, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
But even if the events don’t seem to trigger an immediate panic attack, said Dr. Martin Keller, professor of psychiatry and human behavior and principal investigator of the research, patients, family members, or their psychiatrists need to keep their guard up.
“If they have the event and they are not feeling much different then maybe the vigilance on the individual’s part decreases somewhat,” Keller said. “With the knowledge we have, you may need to stay vigilant for three months or maybe longer. This is something you have to watch for.”
In their study, published in advance June 11 in the Journal of Affective Disorders, lead author Moitra, Keller, and their co-authors also found that panic symptoms did not seem to increase in advance of stressful life events, even if they were predictable, such as a divorce becoming official.
The study is based annual assessments of 418 adults with panic disorder or panic disorder with agoraphobia, who were enrolled in the Harvard/Brown Anxiety Research Project (HARP) between 1998 and 2004. Research staff asked the volunteers detailed, standardized questions about important events in their lives and their levels of anxiety.
A statistical analysis of the results found that for stressful life events in the categories of “work,” such as a demotion or layoff, or “friends/family/household,” such as a family argument, panic symptoms that had meandering severity before the event, increased steadily but gradually for at least 12 weeks afterward.
Stressful events in seven other categories, such as “crime/legal” or “deaths” did not seem to affect panic symptoms at all.
While the findings about the effect of some stressful life events on symptoms of people already diagnosed with panic disorder are new, other researchers have connected stress to panic attacks before. Stressful events are associated with the onset of panic disorder in the vast majority of cases, Moitra said.
Moitra said a possible biological explanation for the association is that stressful life events might exacerbate an underlying proclivity in people with panic disorder to perceive oncoming bouts of hyperventilation, which in turn lead to panic responses.
But while some stressful events have proven to be associated with changes in panic symptom levels, more research is needed to determine what kind of causal role stressful events may have.
“This may be one of those reasons why panic disorders can get worse,” Moitra said.
In addition to Moitra and Keller, other authors include Brown psychiatry and human behavior researchers Ingryd Dyck, Courtney Beard, Andri Bjornsson, and Nicholas Sibrava. Author Risa Weisberg is also affiliated with the Alpert Medical School’s Department of Family Medicine. The National Institutes of Health funded the research.
Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476.
David Orenstein | EurekAlert!
Staphylococcus aureus: A new mechanism involved in virulence and antibiotic resistance
23.03.2018 | Institut Pasteur
Scientists develop tiny tooth-mounted sensors that can track what you eat
22.03.2018 | Tufts University
Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.
The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...
An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.
The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
23.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences
23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy