Is panic disorder associated with medical conditions?

Patients with panic disorder have a higher likelihood of having mitral valve prolapse (MVP). MVP is a weakness of one of the valves of the heart. It is relatively benign, but does occasionally produce abnormal sensations including pounding heart, rapid heart rate, lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, difficulty breathing and chest pain. In one study, 34% of panic disorder patients had MVP.

One of my first patients had a panic disorder which did not respond at all to any of the usual treatments (cognitive behavioral therapy, and various medication trials) and it turned out that she had a severe B12 deficiency. Her panic cleared completely with the first B12 injection.

Other patients may have an underlying seizure disorder (e.g., temporal lobe syndrome), adrenal or thyroid dysfunctions, with PMS, postpartum, postmenopausal, and with significant inflammation or infection (which alters brain production of serotonin, dopamine and glutamate). I recall one woman who had chronic inflammation as a result of both a chronic sinus condition and work in a very moldy environment.

Patients with bipolar disorder have a 20% chance of having a panic disorder and panic disorder is associated with increased risk of suicide, major depression and other anxiety disorders.

Patients with panic disorder have a significantly higher rate of gastrointestinal complaints, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

In general most panic disorder patients tend to describe themselves as always having been fearful and shy as children, have discomfort with aggression, and low self esteem.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.