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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2006 March;47(1):1-10


language: Italian

Gender differences in panic disorder

Maina G., Albert U., Bergesio C., Bogetto F.

Servizio per i Disturbi Depressivi e d’Ansia Dipartimento di Neuroscienze Università degli Studi di Torino, Torino


Important gender differences exist in the prevalence, clinical features and overall course of panic disorder (PD). Little information is available concerning the potential impact of gender on treatment response in PD. The lifetime prevalence rate of PD is between 2% and 3%; PD, as well as panic attacks, is twice as frequent in women compared with men. Fluctations in estrogen and progesterone levels, genetic factors, socialization processes that encourage fearfulness in girls, male-female differences in personality traits have been offered as possible mechanisms for gender differences in the prevalence of PD. Men and women have similar age at onset of PD and the role of precipitating life events is significantly higher in females. Comorbid psychiatric disorders, such as agoraphobia, depression and other anxiety disorders are more common in women; on the other hand, men have greater alcohol and substance abuse. PD is more chronic in women because women are more likely than men to suffer a recurrence of panic symptoms after remission of panic. Gender differences have been identified in the pharmacokinetics of psychotropic medication but the clinical relevance of these findings remains undetermined. However, no significant differences in the treatment response between males and females have been detected, although further studies that focus on this issue are needed.

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