Panic disorder: a test of the separation anxiety hypothesis

Bruce A. Thyer, Randolph M. Nesse, George C. Curtis, Oliver G. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The DSM-III narrative remarks suggest that childhood separation anxiety disorder and sudden object loss apparently predispose to the development of adult panic disorder, despite the paucity of empirical studies documenting such a relationship. In an attempt to test the validity of this separation anxiety hypothesis of panic disorder, 14 objective questions pertaining to childhood separation experiences were answered by 23 panic disorder patients and 28 small-animal phobics. Although the panic disorder patients scored higher on 2 of the 14 items, these differences appear to have little clinical meaning. Caution is indicated prior to continued uncritical acceptance of the separation anxiety hypothesis of panic disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-211
Number of pages3
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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