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High altitudes, anxiety, and panic attacks : is there a relationship?

Roth, Walton T. and Gomolla, Annette and Meuret, Alicia E. and Alpers, Georg W. and Handke, Eva M. and Wilhelm, Frank H.. (2002) High altitudes, anxiety, and panic attacks : is there a relationship? Depression and anxiety, 16 (2). pp. 51-58.

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Abstract

People exposed to high altitudes often experience somatic symptoms triggered by hypoxia, such as breathlessness, palpitations, dizziness, headache, and insomnia. Most of the symptoms are identical to those reported in panic attacks or severe anxiety. Potential causal links between adaptation to altitude and anxiety are apparent in all three leading models of panic, namely, hyperventilation (hypoxia leads to hypocapnia), suffocation false alarms (hypoxia counteracted to some extent by hypocapnia), and cognitive misinterpretations (symptoms from hypoxia and hypocapnia interpreted as dangerous). Furthermore, exposure to high altitudes produces respiratory disturbances during sleep in normals similar to those in panic disorder at low altitudes. In spite of these connections and their clinical importance, evidence for precipitation of panic attacks or more gradual increases in anxiety during altitude exposure is meager. We suggest some improvements that could be made in the design of future studies, possible tests of some of the theoretical causal links, and possible treatment applications, such as systematic exposure of panic patients to high altitude.
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology
07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Ehemalige Einheiten Psychologie > Abteilung Klinische Psychologie und Psychiatrie
07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Ehemalige Einheiten Psychologie > Psychophysiologie (Wilhelm)
UniBasel Contributors:Wilhelm, Frank H
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Bibsysno:Link to catalogue
Publisher:Wiley-Liss
ISSN:1520-6394
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
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Last Modified:28 Sep 2017 15:44
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 13:44

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