A community survey of panic


This study examined the prevalence of panic attacks among 410 residents of the greater Houston metropolitan area. Subjects were contacted by telephone using random digit dialing, and surveyed using a structured interview. Respondents were categorized into frequent, infrequent, and non-panic groups. Subjects who met the DSM-III criteria of at least three panic attacks within a three-week interval, including 4 of 12 symptoms during a typical attack, comprised the frequent panic (Panic Disorder) group. Infrequent panickers reported fewer than three panic attacks within a three-week interval with 4 of 12 symptoms during a typical attack. Results revealed one-year prevalence rates of .8% for subjects reporting frequent panic attacks, 14.1% for infrequent panickers, and 85.1% for non-panickers. Subject perceptions of the definition and frequency of panic were assessed, demonstrating a considerable lack of knowledge of what constitutes a panic attack. Additionally, infrequent panickers estimated a significantly higher prevalence of panic in the public than non-panickers. Presumed precipitating factors, post-panic coping reactions, and panic attacks in household members (including children) were reported. Implications for understanding etiologic factors in Panic Disorder are discussed. © 1988.

Publication Title

Journal of Anxiety Disorders