While there is general agreement that, across cultures, panic disorder appears to be characterized by sudden onset of bodily sensations, such as dizziness and heart palpitations, followed by catastrophic misinterpretations of these symptoms, there remains a need for research investigating ethnic/cultural differences in the experience of panic attacks. In addition to investigating ethnic differences in the experience of panic, it is important to assess whether increased endorsement of panic symptoms translates into increased dysfunction. The present study investigated differences in the experience of panic attacks and examined the relation between symptom endorsement and overall distress and impairment in a large multiracial/ethnic student population. Preliminary analyses indicated that although overall endorsement of panic symptoms was similar across groups, differences did emerge on specific symptoms. Participants identifying as Asian tended to endorse symptoms such as dizziness, unsteadiness, choking, and feeling terrified more frequently than those identifying as Caucasian, and individuals identifying as African American reported feeling less nervous than those identifying as Caucasian. Participants of Hispanic/Latino(a) descent showed no differences from any other group on symptom endorsement. Panic symptom severity was not found to differ across racial/ethnic groups; however, the correlation between panic symptoms and panic severity was stronger for Asian and Caucasian participants than for African Americans. These results suggest that symptoms of panic may be experienced differently across racial/ethnic groups, and highlight the need for clinicians and researchers to assess panic symptoms within the context of culture.
Barrera, T. L., Wilson, K. P., & Norton, P. J. (2010). The experience of panic symptoms across racial groups in a student sample. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 24(8), 873 - 878. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.06.010