March 1st 2007
Panic disorder occurs in about 1 in 5 individuals who have bipolar disorder. Anxiety amplifies the distress caused by depression and mania, but pharmacological approaches are tricky and under-studied. Frequent comorbidity and evidence of a possible genetic relationship of bipolar and panic disorders are suggestive of a causal relationship between the 2. Thus, it may be fruitful to look more closely at evidence for common biological abnormalities in both disorders to find a pathophysiological mechanism that links mania, depression, and panic attacks. Mood episodes and panic attacks can both be modeled as the result of deficits in amygdala-mediated emotional conditioning. From this model, some insight may be gained for potentially helpful treatment strategies for the 2 disorders when they occur together.