Somatic Panic-Attack Equivalents in a Community Sample of Rwandan Widows Who Survived the 1994 Genocide

Citation:

Hagengimana, Athanase, Devon Hinton, Bruce Bird, Mark Pollack, and Roger K. Pitman. 2003. "Somatic Panic-Attack Equivalents in a Community Sample of Rwandan Widows Who Survived the 1994 Genocide." Psychiatric Research 117 (1): 1-9.

Authors: Athanase Hagengimana, Devon Hinton, Bruce Bird, Mark Pollack, Roger K. Pitman

Abstract:

The present study is the first to attempt to determine rates of panic attacks, especially ‘somatically focused’ panic attacks, panic disorder, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression levels in a population of Rwandans traumatized by the 1994 genocide. The following measures were utilized: the Rwandan Panic-Disorder Survey (RPDS); the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI); the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ); and the PTSD Checklist (PCL). Forty of 100 Rwandan widows suffered somatically focused panic attacks during the previous 4 weeks. Thirty-five (87%) of those having panic attacks suffered panic disorder, making the rate of panic disorder for the entire sample 35%. Rwandan widows with panic attacks had greater psychopathology on all measures. Somatically focused panic-attack subtypes seem to constitute a key response to trauma in the Rwandan population. Future studies of traumatized non-Western populations should carefully assess not only somatoform disorder but also somatically focused panic attacks.

Keywords: widows, genocide, mental health, trauma, depression

Topics: Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2003

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