Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia Associated with Dizziness: Characteristic Symptoms and Psychosocial Sequelae

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The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of symptoms of panic disorder in a representative community sample of people with dizziness and to compare the profile of those whose panic was consistently linked to attacks of dizziness with those in whom dizziness was just one of many, variable somatic symptoms of panic. Validated questionnaires assessing physical and psychological symptoms, occupational disability, and handicap were administered to 128 people reporting dizziness in an epidemiological survey. Nearly two thirds of the sample reported having panic attacks, and one in four met key criteria for panic disorder. People whose panic symptoms were consistently associated with dizziness reported higher rates of vertigo than those with panic unrelated to dizziness, and higher rates of fainting, agoraphobic behavior, and occupational disability than either comparison group. Explanation of perceptual-motor triggers for disorientation may increase the predictability of attacks, thus reducing vulnerability to dizziness-provoked panic.

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