Objective: To determine the association between respiratory disease and panic attacks among adults in the US population.
Method: Data were drawn from the Midlife Development in the United States Survey (n = 3,032), a representative sample of adults aged 25 to 74 years. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to determine the relationship between self-reported respiratory and other lung disease and panic attacks, major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and alcohol/substance use disorders.
Results: After adjusting for demographic characteristics, comorbid mental disorders, and comorbid physical disorders, self-reported respiratory disease (ie, asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema) was associated with a significantly increased likelihood of panic attacks (odds ratio, 1.7; confidence interval, 1.2 to 2.4). Other self-reported lung disease was also associated with a significantly increased odds of panic attacks (odds ratio, 2.3; confidence interval, 1.2 to 4.2), and having both self-reported respiratory disease and another lung disease was associated with increased likelihood of panic attacks (odds ratio, 4.1; confidence interval, 1.7, 9.9). These associations also persisted after adjusting for demographic characteristics, comorbid mental disorders, and physical comorbidity.
Conclusion: These findings are consistent with and extend previous clinical and epidemiologic data by showing a specific association between self-reported respiratory disease and panic attacks among adults. Future studies that investigate the relationship between respiratory disease and panic attacks, and other mental disorders, using prospectively collected data on respiratory functioning, may help to improve our understanding of the mechanism of this association.