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ABSTRACT— Data from 2,903 adult same‐sex twin pairs were analysed to investigate whether the genetic determinants of symptoms of panic are different from those underlying the neuroticism personality trait. Our results suggest that much of the genetic variation influencing the physical symptoms associated with panic is of the nonadditive type, perhaps due to dominance or epistasis. In both sexes these nonadditive genetic effects on physical symptoms influence the reporting of “feelings of panic”. In males they also account for as much as half the genetic variance in neuroticism. The remainder is additive and also accounts for the balance of genetic variation in “feelings of panic”. In females genetic variance in neuroticism is entirely additive but is not an important source of covariation with either panic symptom. Thus, symptoms of panic seem to be shaped in part by unique genetic influences which do not affect other anxiety symptoms. That a substantial part of the genetic variance in neuroticism in males may be due to the nonadditive effects on physical symptoms of panic may help to explain the rather low correlation between the genetic influences found to affect neuroticism in males and their counterparts in females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-706
Number of pages9
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1988


  • anxiety
  • genetics
  • neuroticism
  • panic
  • twins


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