Psychobiological aspects of asthma and the consequent research implications

Chest. 1990 Mar;97(3):628-34. doi: 10.1378/chest.97.3.628.


Recent research suggests that anxiety disorders are more common in asthmatic patients than in the population as a whole. There are a variety of biologic, psychologic, and social factors that suggest that the disorder of asthma may in itself be anxiogenic and that simply having asthma may give patients an increased vulnerability toward the development of anxiety disorders. These issues are reviewed and emphasis is placed on the need for further research into the apparent biologic areas of overlap between psychiatric disorders and asthma. It is hypothesized that a "lactate challenge test" may be used in asthmatics to see if they are predisposed to panic and suggested that a therapeutic trial of tricyclic antidepressants in anxious asthmatics is indicated. Research into the psychobiologic aspects of asthma is likely to clarify the role of "emotional" factors in asthma and may well have significant implications for the management of this disorder.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / physiopathology
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Biology
  • Humans
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Research