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Panic disorder, major depression inherited separately from atopy.

MIAMI -- People with major depressive disorder, panic disorder, or both are more likely to have allergies and asthma, according to some recent studies, but their first-degree relatives are at no higher risk, suggesting these disorders are transmitted separately within families, according to a controlled family study.

Researchers who found that individuals had an association between atopic disorders--specifically asthma and allergies--and major depressive disorder and panic disorder proposed that these disorders could be found on the same genetic spectrum.

Dana March and her colleagues assessed data from a controlled family study to confirm this association and assess any transmission within their first-degree relatives. They interviewed individuals directly using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia-Lifetime Version (SADS-L), a tool that assesses psychiatric and medical disorders, said Ms. March of the division of clinical and genetic epidemiology at Columbia University, New York.

The participants (called probands in genetic studies) were grouped according to results: 41 probands with early-onset depression, 30 with panic disorder, 77 comorbid with panic and major depressive disorder, and 45 who were never mentally ill.

"We looked first at the psychiatry, then for the atopy," Ms. March explained at the annual conference of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.

Logistic regression demonstrated a strong association between panic disorder and atopic disorders, especially allergies, in probands (odds ratio 6.0), compared with probands with no mental illness.

This finding was consistent with other studies. However, no other researchers had looked at comorbid patients with panic and depression before, Ms. March reported.

She found an elevated prevalence of atopy in probands comorbid with panic disorder and major depressive disorder (odds ratio 3.6), compared with participants who were never mentally ill.

"I also wanted to see if these disorders are transmitted together in families." Ms. March said.

The researchers compared the 193 probands with 435 of their first-degree relatives. Again, the only association was within individuals, not families.

Family members who were comorbid for panic disorder and major depressive disorder were more likely to have atopy (odds ratio 3.2). "We found relatives with psychiatric disorders had higher rates of atopy, but they were not transferred." Ms. March said.

Based on the lack of familial associations, she noted, "Atopic disorders did not appear to be transmitted in family members of probands with panic disorder, major depressive disorder, or both."

BY DAMIAN McNAMARA

Miami Bureau
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Title Annotation:Psychosomatic Medicine
Author:McNamara, Damian
Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2004
Words:393
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