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March 1986

Relationship Between Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia: A Family Study

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City (Drs Noyes, Crowe, and McChesney); the Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh (Dr Harris); Pitt County Mental Health Center, Greenville, NC (Dr Hamra); and the Mental Health Center of Rock Island and Mercer Counties, Rock Island, Ill (Dr Chaudhry).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986;43(3):227-232. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800030037004

• A family study of patients with agoraphobia (n = 40), panic disorder (n = 40), and nonanxious controls (n = 20) showed that the morbidity risk for panic disorder was increased among the relatives of agoraphobics (8.3%) and the relatives of patients with panic disorder (17.3%). The morbidity risk for agoraphobia was also increased among the relatives of agoraphobics (11.6%) but not the relatives of panic disorder patients (1.9%). Male relatives of agoraphobics were shown to be at higher risk for alcohol disorders (30.8%). No greater risk for primary affective disorders was found among the relatives of agoraphobic or panic disorder patients or among the relatives of probands with secondary depression compared with relatives of probands without secondary depression. Probands and relatives with agoraphobia reported an earlier onset of illness, more persistent and disabling symptoms, more frequent complications, and a less favorable outcome than probands and relatives with panic disorder. The findings suggest that agoraphobia is a more severe variant of panic disorder. They also lend support to the separation between anxiety disorders and affective disorders.