Panic disorder in a breath-holding challenge test: a simple tool for a better diagnosis

Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2003 Sep;61(3B):718-22. doi: 10.1590/s0004-282x2003000500003. Epub 2003 Oct 28.


Objective: Our aim was to observe if anxiety disorder patients - DSM-IV - respond in a similar way to the induction of panic attacks by a breath-holding challenge test.

Method: We randomly selected 29 panic disorder (PD) patients, 27 social anxiety disorder (SAD) patients, 21 generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) patients. They were induced to breath-hold for as long as possible four times with two-minute interval between them. Anxiety scales were applied before and after the test.

Results: A total of 44.8% (n=13) PD patients, 14.8% (n=4) SAD patients, 9.5% (n=2) GAD patients had a panic attack after the test (c = 21.44, df= 2, p=0.001). There was no heart rate or anxiety levels difference among the groups before and after the test.

Conclusion: In this breath-holding challenge test the panic disorder patients were more sensitive than other anxiety disorder patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / physiopathology*
  • Breath Tests
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Panic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Panic Disorder / physiopathology
  • Respiration*