Panic disorder and dissociation - comparison with healthy controls.

OBJECTIVE: According to recent findings, clinical symptoms of the patients suffering from panic disorder are related to dissociation. The aim of our study is to examine if the dissociation, can influence the intensity of psychopathology in patients suffering from panic disorder with or without agoraphobia and compare the levels of dissociation in the patients and healthy subjects.

METHODS: 41 patients suffering from panic disorder (70.1% females) and 66 healthy controls (77.3% females) were included in the study. The patients were psychiatrically assessed and the subjective intensity of symptoms was evaluated using Beck Anxiety Inventory and Beck Depression Inventory. All participants were assessed with the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES).

RESULTS: The two groups didn't differ in demographic variables like age, gender and education. Level of the psychological dissociation assessed with the DES was correlated with the severity of subjective anxiety symptoms (p<0.0001), but not with the severity of depression symptoms. Patients did not have significantly higher mean score on the DES than healthy controls.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the level of psychological dissociation in panic disorder patients is associated with the severity of anxiety but not depressive symptoms.

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