Agoraphobia: A review of diagnostic classificatory position and criteria

Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Technische Universitaet Dresden, D-01187Dresden, Germany.
Depression and Anxiety (Impact Factor: 4.41). 02/2010; 27(2):113-33. DOI: 10.1002/da.20646
Source: PubMed


The status of agoraphobia (AG) as an independent diagnostic category is reviewed and preliminary options and recommendations for the fifth edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) are presented. The review concentrates on epidemiology, psychopathology, neurobiology, vulnerability and risk factors, clinical course and outcome, and correlates and consequences of AG since 1990. Differences and similarities across conventions and criteria of DSM and ICD-10 are considered. Three core questions are addressed. First, what is the evidence for AG as a diagnosis independent of panic disorder? Second, should AG be conceptualized as a subordinate form of panic disorder (PD) as currently stipulated in DSM-IV-TR? Third, is there evidence for modifying or changing the current diagnostic criteria? We come to the conclusion that AG should be conceptualized as an independent disorder with more specific criteria rather than a subordinate, residual form of PD as currently stipulated in DSM-IV-TR. Among other issues, this conclusion was based on psychometric evaluations of the construct, epidemiological investigations which show that AG can exist independently of panic disorder, and the impact of agoraphobic avoidance upon clinical course and outcome. However, evidence from basic and clinic validation studies remains incomplete and partly contradictory. The apparent advantages of a more straightforward, simpler classification without implicit hierarchies and insufficiently supported differential diagnostic considerations, plus the option for improved further research, led to favoring the separate diagnostic criteria for AG as a diagnosis independent of panic disorder.

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Available from: Andrew T Gloster, Sep 26, 2014
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    • "In the fifth edition (DSM-5; APA, 2013), by contrast, AG and PD are considered independent diagnoses and thus brought in line with the International Classification of Diagnoses Tenth Revision (ICD-10, World Health Organization, 1993). In a recent review, however, Wittchen et al. (2010) conclude that evidence pertaining to these issues from basic and clinical validation studies is incomplete and partly contradictory. Studies of community samples suggest that PD with AG and AG without PD are persistent disorders associated with frequent complications such as impairment, disability and comorbidity (e.g., Wittchen et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the current study was to compare the 20-year outcome in panic disorder with agoraphobia (PD with AG) and agoraphobia without panic disorder (AG without PD) patients after inpatient psychological treatment. Of 53 eligible patients having completed a medication-free integrated exposure and psychodynamic treatment, 38 (71.7%)-25 PD with AG and 13 AG without PD patients-attended 20-year follow-up. AG without PD patients improved less than PD with AG patients did on primary outcome measures. In the PD with AG group, there were large uncontrolled effect sizes (<-2.30). More of the AG without PD patients had avoidant personality disorder at pretreatment, but the presence of this disorder did not predict outcome. The follow-up results support that PD with AG and AG without PD are two different disorders. The results also suggest that the very long-term outcome in PD with AG patients is excellent for this integrated treatment. Copyright
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease
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    • "Beesdo K, Pine DS, Lieb R, Wittchen HU (2010) Incidence and risk patterns of anxiety and depressive disorders and categorization of generalized anxiety disorder. "
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    ABSTRACT: The "Early Developmental Stages of Psychopathology (EDSP)" study is a prospective-longitudinal study program in a community sample (Munich, Germany) of adolescents and young adults. The program was launched in 1994 to study the prevalence and incidence of psychopathological syndromes and mental disorders, to describe the natural course and to identify vulnerability and risk factors for onset and progression as well as psychosocial consequences. This paper reviews methods and core outcomes of this study program. The EDSP is based on an age-stratified random community sample of originally N = 3021 subjects aged 14-24 years at baseline, followed up over 10 years with up to 3 follow-up waves. The program includes a family genetic supplement and nested cohorts with lab assessments including blood samples for genetic analyses. Psychopathology was assessed with the DSM-IV/M-CIDI; embedded dimensional scales and instruments assessed vulnerability and risk factors. Beyond the provision of age-specific prevalence and incidence rates for a wide range of mental disorders, analyses of their patterns of onset, course and interrelationships, the program identified common and diagnosis-specific distal and proximal vulnerability and risk factors including critical interactions. The EDSP study advanced our knowledge on the developmental pathways and trajectories, symptom progression and unfolding of disorder comorbidity, highlighting the dynamic nature of many disorders and their determinants. The results have been instrumental for defining more appropriate diagnostic thresholds, led to the derivation of symptom progression models and were helpful to identify promising targets for prevention and intervention.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015 · Social Psychiatry
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    • "In light of the diagnostic status update in the DSM-5, further epidemiological research corroborating AG as independent from PD is needed. Specifically, age of onset characteristics in AG are yet to be established (Wittchen et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Age of onset is an important epidemiological indicator in characterizing disorders׳ subtypes according to demographic, clinical and psychosocial determinants. While investigated in various psychiatric conditions, age of onset and related characteristics in agoraphobia have yet to be examined. In light of the new diagnostic status in the DSM-5 edition of agoraphobia as independent from panic disorder, research on agoraphobia as a stand-alone disorder is needed. Methods: Admixture analysis was used to determine the best-fitting model for the observed ages at onset of 507 agoraphobia patients participating in the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (age range 18-65). Associations between agoraphobia age of onset and different demographic, clinical and psychosocial determinants were examined using multivariate logistic regression analysis. Results: Admixture analyses identified two distributions of age of onset, with 27 as the cutoff age (≤27; early onset, >27; late onset). Early onset agoraphobia was only independently associated with family history of anxiety disorders (p<0.01) LIMITATIONS: Age of onset was assessed retrospectively, and analyses were based on cross-sectional data. Conclusion: The best distinguishing age of onset cutoff of agoraphobia was found to be 27. Early onset agoraphobia might constitute of a familial subtype. As opposed to other psychiatric disorders, early onset in agoraphobia does not indicate for increased clinical severity and/or disability.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Journal of Affective Disorders
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