Asthma is a serious chronic illness that affects over five percent of the population of industrialized nations (Barnes, 1989). In the United States alone, approximately six percent of all children under 18 years of age suffer from asthma (Taggart & Fulwood, 1993). Many organismic, environmental, and psychological, variables affect the onset, intensity, and duration of an asthmatic episode. While noting the organismic and environmental variables, this paper focuses primarily on the psychological factors which can affect asthma. Of the psychological variables, anxiety related factors, in general, and panic symptoms, in particular, will be examined. It will detail how panic symptoms in asthma are similar to those suffered by individuals who are diagnosed as having Panic Disorder (A.P.A., 1994). This paper reviews current clinical literature of psychological therapeutic interventions that have proved successful in treating asthma as well as those for treating panic . From the literature, this paper proposes a new therapeutic intervention for the panic symptoms often associated with asthma based on a synthesis of treatments that have proven effective for both.
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