Prevalence, patterns and role of personality disorders in panic disorder patients with and without comorbid (lifetime) major depression


Gernot Langs, Medizinisch-Psychosomatische Klinik Bad Bramstedt, Birkenweg 10, D-24576 Bad Bramstedt, Germany


A total of 84 consecutive out-patients from the Anxiety Disorders Clinic of the Psychiatric University Hospital in Graz with a current panic disorder were diagnosed for Axis I and II disorders using the Structured Clinical Interviews for DSM-III-R. The subjects were divided into two groups: (i) 49 patients who met the criteria for panic disorder with or without agoraphobia and had no history of an affective disorder and (ii) 35 patients who had a (lifetime) comorbidity of a major depressive disorder. There was a statistically significant difference in the prevalence of personality disorders between the two groups, which was due to the higher frequency of narcissistic personality disorder in the comorbid sample. Logistic regression analysis revealed that agoraphobia and/or major depression were associated with personality disorders, thus indicating that the relationship between panic disorder, agoraphobia and major depression is not straightforward, but is strongly influenced by the presence of Axis II disorders. Furthermore, the results of this study provide support for the ‘unitary position’ concerning the relationship between panic disorder and depression.