Sheikh JI, Swales PJ, Carlson EB, Lindley SE.
American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Objective: The authors compared young and older adults with panic disorder (PD) to investigate differences in panic-associated phenomenology, psychiatric comorbidity, and risk factors. Method: Patients in the older group (age 60 and above) were further subdivided into early- and late-onset groups and compared. Phenomenology (number of panic symptoms, severity of anxiety, physiological symptoms, panic-associated cognitions, and overall severity of PD); comorbidity (depressive and anxiety disorders); and risk factors (family history of anxiety and life stressors) were assessed in 167 outpatients with PD. Results: Older patients reported fewer panic symptoms, less anxiety and arousal, less severe PD, lower levels of depression, and higher levels of functioning. Furthermore, within the older-patient group, late-onset patients were found to report less distress during panic attacks in relation to body sensations and panic-related cognitions and emotions. Multiple-regression analysis of the entire sample showed that chronological age and age at onset of PD distinctly predicted different domains of panic phenomenology. Conclusion: PD was consistently less severe in older patients across multiple domains, and a later age at onset was associated with less distress due to body sensations, cognitions, and emotions during panic attacks.