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Pain Research and Management
Volume 7, Issue 3, Pages 134-141
Anxiety and Related Factors in Chronic Pain

Pain in Patients with Panic Disorder: Relation to Symptoms, Cognitive Characteristics and Treatment Outcome

Norman B Schmidt,1 Helen T Santiago,2 John H Trakowski,3 and J Michael Kendren4

1Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
2National Space Biomedical Research Institute, Houston, Texas, USA
3Adult Outpatient Psychology Service, Dwight D Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Fort Gordon, Georgia, USA
4Laboratory for Anxiety and Stress Disorders, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: Although there has been a link between certain types of pain, notably chest pain, and panic disorder, the relation between pain and panic disorder has not been systematically evaluated. In the present study, the relation between pain symptoms (headache, chest pain, stomach pain, joint pain) and the clinical presentation of patients with panic disorder was evaluated.

HYPOTHESES: Pain was generally hypothesized to be related to increased symptoms of anxiety, panic-relevant cognitive domains and treatment outcome. In terms of specific pain domains, headache and chest pain were expected to be more closely related to anxiety-related symptoms.

PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: Patients (n=139) meeting the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth Edition for panic disorder completed a set of standardized clinician-rated and self-reported measures. Moderator analyses were used in a subset of these patients completing a treatment outcome study.

RESULTS: Approximately two-thirds of the participants endorsed at least one current pain symptom. The hypotheses were partially supported, with pain being associated with higher levels of anxiety and depression symptoms, as well as panic frequency. Pain was also related to several cognitive features, including anxiety sensitivity and panic appraisals. Headache and chest pain were more highly associated with anxiety symptoms than was joint pain. Cognitive measures did not mediate the relation between anxiety and pain, and pain did not significantly moderate outcome in response to cognitive-behavioural therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: Co-occurring pain symptoms appear to be more highly related to phenomenology than to treatment response in patients with panic disorder.