A 1-year prospective study of panic attacks: clinical course and factors associated with maintenance.
A prospective naturalistic 1-year follow-up study of 39 patients with current panic disorder, 17 remitted panic patients, 46 infrequent panickers, 22 patients with simple phobias, and 45 controls assessed clinical course and variables related to the maintenance of panic attacks. Nearly all panic disorder patients (92%) continued to experience panic attacks, and 41% of the initially remitted patients relapsed. No significant effects of treatments delivered in the community were found. Infrequent panickers tended to be more likely to develop panic disorder (15%) than controls (2%). Maintenance/relapse was most consistently linked with good heartbeat perception, anxiety sensitivity, and avoidance in the different subsamples. Patients with simple phobias or normal controls who experienced their first panic attack during follow-up had shown higher anxiety sensitivity at initial assessment than nonpanickers.