Nonclinical Panic in College Students: An Investigation of Prevalence and Symptomatology

Michael J. Telch, John A. Lucas, Patrick Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


This article presents data on the prevalence and symptomatology of panic attacks and panic disorder (PD) in a large nonclinical sample (n = 2,375) of college students. Results showed that approximately 12% of the sample had experienced at least one unexpected panic attack and that 2.36% met DSM-III-R criteria for panic disorder. Although there were no sex differences in overall panic attack prevalence, men reported significantly more panic-related worry than women, and women reported a higher panic frequency than men. Compared to subjects who met DSM-III-R criteria for PD, infrequent panickers presented with fewer panic symptoms, fewer panic episodes, less panic-related worry, lower anxiety sensitivity, and less panic-related avoidance. Moreover, compared with PD subjects, the infrequent panickers were much less likely to report fears of dying, going insane, and derealization during a panic attack. The findings provide preliminary support for the role of anxious apprehension as a psychological vulnerability factor in the pathogenesis of panic disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-306
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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