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Prevalence and features of panic disorder and comparison to posttraumatic stress disorder in VA primary care.

Gros DF, Frueh BC, Magruder KM. Prevalence and features of panic disorder and comparison to posttraumatic stress disorder in VA primary care. General hospital psychiatry. 2011 Sep 1; 33(5):482-8.

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OBJECTIVE: Although panic disorder (PD) is a highly prevalent condition in both community and community primary care settings, little is known about PD in veteran populations, especially in comparison to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The present study investigated prevalence, comorbidity, physical and mental health impairment, and health care utilization of veterans with PD and PTSD. METHOD: A total of 884 veterans participated in a cross-sectional investigation in primary care clinics in four Veteran Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs). Participants completed diagnostic interviews and self-report questionnaires, and a chart review was completed to assess their VAMC health care utilization. RESULTS: A large number of veterans (8.3%) met the diagnostic criteria for PD and reported significantly more severe physical health impairment (pain, general health), mental health impairment (emotional well-being, role limitations) and social functioning than veterans without PD. Veterans with PD also had increased health care utilization for mental health. Further, PD was highly comorbid with PTSD, with similar symptoms across all measures. CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate the high prevalence and severe impairment associated with PD in veterans and highlight the need for improved recognition, assessment and specialized treatments for PD in VAMCs and other care settings.

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