The psychoimmunological association of panic disorder and allergic reaction

Br J Clin Psychol. 1997 Feb;36(1):51-62. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8260.1997.tb01230.x.


During treatment of out-patients suffering from DSM-III R panic disorder (PD) with and without agoraphobia, our attention was drawn to a high frequency of comorbid allergic reactions. In a controlled study, the prevalence of immediate type I reactions was determined in panic patients. Conversely, the prevalence of psychological disorders was recorded among allergic patients. Altogether, 79 out-patients with PD, 100 type I allergic out-patients and 66 controls underwent structured clinical interviews and tests for allergies. Of the patients suffering from PD, 70 per cent displayed type I immediate reactions (controls = 29 per cent). Vasodilatation (often approaching circulation collapse) is a frequently occurring allergic syndrome which is a very dramatic experience. Fifty per cent of the allergic patients showed mild to severe psychological disturbances (controls = 25 per cent); and 16 per cent had problems requiring treatment (controls = 9 per cent). Ten per cent of the allergic patients revealed PD (controls = 2 per cent). The association between PD and allergic (vasomotor) reactions was found to be highly significant. A functional relationship is hypothesized in terms of conditioning cognitive and vasomotor interactions during autonomic arousal.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agoraphobia / immunology*
  • Agoraphobia / psychology
  • Anaphylaxis / immunology
  • Anaphylaxis / psychology
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / immunology*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Panic Disorder / immunology*
  • Panic Disorder / psychology
  • Personality Inventory
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Syncope, Vasovagal / immunology
  • Syncope, Vasovagal / psychology