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. 2016 Dec;33(12):1155-1177.
doi: 10.1002/da.22572. Epub 2016 Oct 24.

Cross-national Epidemiology of Panic Disorder and Panic Attacks in the World Mental Health Surveys

Free PMC article

Cross-national Epidemiology of Panic Disorder and Panic Attacks in the World Mental Health Surveys

Peter de Jonge et al. Depress Anxiety. .
Free PMC article


Context: The scarcity of cross-national reports and the changes in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version 5 (DSM-5) regarding panic disorder (PD) and panic attacks (PAs) call for new epidemiological data on PD and PAs and its subtypes in the general population.

Objective: To present representative data about the cross-national epidemiology of PD and PAs in accordance with DSM-5 definitions.

Design and setting: Nationally representative cross-sectional surveys using the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview version 3.0.

Participants: Respondents (n = 142,949) from 25 high, middle, and lower-middle income countries across the world aged 18 years or older.

Main outcome measures: PD and presence of single and recurrent PAs.

Results: Lifetime prevalence of PAs was 13.2% (SE 0.1%). Among persons that ever had a PA, the majority had recurrent PAs (66.5%; SE 0.5%), while only 12.8% fulfilled DSM-5 criteria for PD. Recurrent PAs were associated with a subsequent onset of a variety of mental disorders (OR 2.0; 95% CI 1.8-2.2) and their course (OR 1.3; 95% CI 1.2-2.4) whereas single PAs were not (OR 1.1; 95% CI 0.9-1.3 and OR 0.7; 95% CI 0.6-0.8). Cross-national lifetime prevalence estimates were 1.7% (SE 0.0%) for PD with a median age of onset of 32 (IQR 20-47). Some 80.4% of persons with lifetime PD had a lifetime comorbid mental disorder.

Conclusions: We extended previous epidemiological data to a cross-national context. The presence of recurrent PAs in particular is associated with subsequent onset and course of mental disorders beyond agoraphobia and PD, and might serve as a generic risk marker for psychopathology.

Keywords: anxiety/anxiety disorders; assessment/diagnosis; epidemiology; international; panic attacks/agoraphobia.

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