Chest pain in generalized anxiety disorder

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33 Scopus citations


Objectives: The objectives of the current study were to evaluate the prevalence of chest pain and related medical utilization in patients with generalized anxiety disorder and to investigate the possible relationship between the occurrence of chest pain in these patients and the episodes of excessive worry which characterize this disorder. Method: The presence of a history of chest pain in patients with generalized anxiety disorder was investigated in an outpatient psychiatric sample using a structured interview which also assessed related medical utilization and the relationship of chest pain to panic attacks and episodes of excessive worry. Results: Of fifty sequentially evaluated patients meeting DSM-III R criteria for G.A.D., twenty-four (48%) reported a history of chest pain. Seven of these patients also had a history of panic attacks, however, four of the seven reported that their pain occurred independently of their panic attacks. Sixteen patients with G.A.D. reported that their chest pain episodes were associated with episodes of excess worry. Eleven had sought medical evaluation for their pain. Patients with chest pain and normal coronary arteries are frequently found to have panic disorder. The pattern of utilization of medical care was comparable in this sample of patients with G.A.D. and a group of patients with panic disorder recruited in a similar manner. Conclusions: These results suggest that in addition to panic disorder, G.A.D. may also be a common diagnosis in chest pain patients with no demonstrable coronary disease. Future studies of coronary artery disease negative patients with chest pain should include assessments for the presence of G.A.D. Our results also suggest that chest pain may be a common symptom in G.A.D. The possibility that chest pain should be included in the diagnostic criteria for this disorder should be the subject of further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-298
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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