Models attempting to explain the relationship between hyperventilation and acute anxiety or panic frequently involve a trigger precipitating a vicious circle, such as: triggerhyperventilationsymptomsmisattributionanxietyfurther hyperventilation, and so on (e.g., see Clark et al., 1985; Lum, 1976). However, it seems unlikely that either panic (Lelliott and Bass, 1990; Ley, 1990, 1992) or hyperventilation (Conway et al., 1988) are unitary disorders. Pollard et al. (1989) found that major life events were reported by agoraphobics in greater numbers and at a higher percentage during a time period around panic onset than they were reported during either a within-subjects or a between-subjects control period; these results provided evidence of a contiguous relationship between life events and onset of panic attacks associated with agoraphobia. This paper intends to explore the significance of an initiating event for some patients and the emotional response to it, the relevance of the trigger to episodes of acute hyperventilation, and the consequent implications for therapy.


Panic Attack Psychosomatic Medicine Major Life Event Death Anxiety Emotional Suppression 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashley V. Conway
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryCharing Cross and Westminster Medical SchoolLondonEngland

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