Courtesy of Theoharis Theoharides

Recent research has drawn links between panic disorder and bladder problems of largely unknown origins. A study of 146 families builds on earlier findings that a familial, possibly pleiotropic syndrome that includes panic disorder (PD) and interstitial cystitis (IC) is linked to chromosome 13.1 In a case-controlled study, Columbia University epidemiologist, Myrna Weissman, found that patients with IC and their first-degree relatives also have increased rates of PD and other disorders involving autonomic control. Weissman and her colleagues speculate that many or all of these conditions share a common underlying pathology.

One theory as to a mechanism underlying both IC and PD centers on mast cells (above), the histamine-producing immune cells previously implicated in IC pathogenesis. Stress increases IC symptoms. Neural substances secreted under stress activate mast cells to release mediators, including serotonin, an imbalance of which is implicated in PD, says Theoharis Theoharides at...

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