The Interaction of Nicotine Withdrawal and Panic Disorder in the Prediction of Panic-Relevant Responding to a Biological Challenge

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The current investigation evaluated nicotine withdrawal symptoms elicited by 12 hours of smoking deprivation on anxious and fearful responding to bodily sensations among daily smokers with and without panic disorder (PD). It was hypothesized that smokers with PD who were experiencing greater levels of nicotine withdrawal would experience the greatest levels of fearful responding to, and delayed recovery from, a 10% carbon dioxide-enriched air (CO2) biological challenge procedure. Participants were 58 adults who reported smoking 19.72 cigarettes daily (SD = 7.99). Results indicated that nicotine withdrawal and PD status interacted to predict greater postchallenge panic attack symptoms. Also, individuals with PD initially evidenced a quicker decrease in subjective anxiety following the challenge, but their rate of recovery decelerated over time as compared to those without PD. There was, however, no significant interaction for change in subjective anxiety pre- to postchallenge. Results are discussed in relation to the role of nicotine withdrawal in anxious and fearful responding for smokers with PD.

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