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Relationship of childhood anxiety to adult panic disorder: correlates and influence on course
Am J Psychiatry 1996;153:376-381.
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OBJECTIVE: This study investigated the correlates of a childhood history of anxiety disorders in adult patients participating in a longitudinal study of panic disorder. The authors hypothesized that a history of anxiety during childhood would be associated with higher rates of comorbid anxiety and depressive disorders, greater likelihood of anxiety disorders in family members, and greater chronicity, as reflected by decreased time spent in remission. METHOD: The presence of a childhood history of anxiety disorders was assessed by structured interview, and its association with comorbid anxiety and depressive disorders, family history, and select anxiety severity variables was examined in a replication sample of 94 patients. The influence of childhood anxiety on the prospectively ascertained course of disorder was assessed in a full group of 194 patients. RESULTS: Over half (54%) of the patients experienced anxiety disorders during childhood. These patients experienced higher rates of comorbid anxiety and depression, family history of anxiety, and increased levels of agoraphobia, panic frequency, and global severity of illness at baseline evaluation. Childhood anxiety disorders were not independently associated with the number of months in remission or the severity of illness over time, although a modest effect for this variable was evident when degree of avoidance and anxiety sensitivity at baseline were statistically controlled. CONCLUSIONS: Adult panic patients with a history of anxiety disorders in childhood have elevated rates of comorbid anxiety and depressive disorders and a tendency toward increased avoidance, but there was not strong evidence that these patients respond differently to treatment over time.

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