OBJECTIVE: This study tested the hypothesis that compared to other DSM-
IV specific phobia types, situational specific phobias have more in common
with panic disorder and agoraphobia. METHOD: Responses to hyperventilation
and CO2 inhalation were compared across groups of patients with the four
main DSM-IV specific phobia types, a group with panic disorder, and a group
of comparison subjects with no anxiety disorder (N = 15 per group).
RESULTS: Although these challenges have been shown previously to
distinguish patients with panic disorder from other groups, no groups
differed significantly in their responses to hyperventilation. In addition,
whereas the patients with panic disorder responded more to the CO2
challenge than did the normal subjects, the specific phobia groups did not
differ from one another or from the other groups on most measures. For the
few CO2 measures on which specific phobia groups differed, patients with
situational and natural environment phobias showed the greatest response.
CONCLUSIONS: Overall, these findings provided only limited support for the
hypothesis that situational specific phobias are related to panic