An evidence-based causal model of panic disorder

J Anxiety Disord. 2011 Apr;25(3):381-8. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.10.013. Epub 2010 Nov 9.


Recently, Fava and Morton (2009) described what they termed a 'causal model' of panic disorder (Causal modeling of panic disorder theories, Clinical Psychology Review, 29, 623-637). We examined several critical tenets of this proposed model, and offer significant revisions. Our revised causal model includes elements that have received empirical support, and exclude those with known limitations in explaining the etiology and treatment of panic disorder. Chief among these revisions are (1) an increased emphasis on anxiety sensitivity, (2) elimination of the more general psychodynamic conceptualization in favor of empirically supported findings regarding early attachment, and (3) placing biological and psychophysiological reactions as outcomes of false alarm threat, rather than causal mechanisms of panic.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Panic Disorder / etiology*
  • Panic Disorder / psychology*
  • Psychological Theory