Anxiety in Patients With Pheochromocytomas

Monica N. Starkman, MD; Thomas C. Zelnik, MD; Randolph M. Nesse, MD; Oliver G. Cameron, MD, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 1985;145(2):248-252. doi:10.1001/archinte.1985.00360020068013.
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• Anxiety has been considered an important clinical feature of patients with pheochromocytomas. We studied 17 patients with active pheochromocytoma to determine whether they experienced anxiety that met criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, third edition, for either panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. Fifty-two patients with primary anxiety disorders were used as a comparison group. Six patients with pheochromocytomas had norepinephrine-secreting tumors and 11 had mixed-secretion tumors, with elevated levels of both epinephrine and norepinephrine. None of the 17 patients described the severe apprehension or fear characteristic of panic attacks and none described agoraphobia. One patient received a diagnosis of possible panic disorder, two met criteria for generalized anxiety disorder, and two met criteria for major depressive episode. Thus, the elevated levels of catecholamines secreted by pheochromocytomas are not sufficient to elicit an anxiety disorder.

(Arch Intern Med 1985;145:248-252)


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