Comorbid personality disorders in subjects with panic disorder: do personality disorders increase clinical severity?

Mustafa Ozkan, Abdurrahman Altindag
Comprehensive Psychiatry 2005, 46 (1): 20-6
Personality disorders are common in subjects with panic disorder. Personality disorders have been shown to affect the course of panic disorder. The purpose of this study was to examine which personality disorders affect clinical severity in subjects with panic disorder. This study included 122 adults (71 women, 41 men) who met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition ( DSM-IV ) criteria for panic disorder (with or without agoraphobia). Clinical assessment was conducted by using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders, the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis II Personality Disorders, and the Panic and Agoraphobia Scale, Global Assessment Functioning Scale, Beck Depression Inventory, and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Patients who had a history of sexual abuse were assessed with Sexual Abuse Severity Scale. Logistic regressions were used to identify predictors of suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, sexual abuse, and early onset of disorder. The rates of comorbid Axes I and II psychiatric disorders were 80.3% and 33.9%, respectively, in patients with panic disorder. Patients with panic disorder with comorbid personality disorders had more severe anxiety, depression, and agoraphobia symptoms, had earlier ages at onset, and had lower levels of functioning. The rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts were 34.8% and 9.8%, respectively, in subjects with panic disorder. The rate of patients with panic disorder and a history of childhood sexual abuse was 12.5%. The predictor of sexual abuse was borderline personality disorder. The predictors of suicide attempt were comorbid paranoid and borderline personality disorders, and the predictors of suicidal ideation were comorbid major depression and avoidant personality disorder in subjects with panic disorder. In conclusion, this study documents that comorbid personality disorders increase the clinical severity of panic disorder. Borderline personality disorder may be the predictor of a history of sexual abuse and early onset in patients with panic disorder. Paranoid and borderline personality disorders may be associated with a high frequency of suicide attempts in patients with panic disorder.

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