Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Dace S. Svikis


Anxiety disorders, including Panic Disorder, and alcohol problems co-occur at greater rates than chance in the general population. It has also been suggested that alcohol is used to cope with anxiety symptoms, such as trait anxiety. While pregnancy may be a protective period against Panic Disorder and panic symptoms, trait anxiety remains relatively stable during pregnancy. The purpose of the present study was to examine differences in rates of current Panic Disorder, panic attacks, and trait anxiety in pregnant and non-pregnant women receiving care at an urban OB/GYN clinic. The study also examined correlates and differences in alcohol use and at-risk drinking among these women. In addition, the study assessed whether meeting diagnostic criteria for Panic Disorder, having had a recent panic attack, and trait anxiety influence alcohol use and at risk drinking among women, and whether pregnancy status moderates these associations. Participants included pregnant (N = 412) and non-pregnant (N = 139) women receiving care at VCU Health Systems' OB/GYN clinics. As predicted, pregnant women were less likely than non-pregnant women to have current Panic Disorder and/or a recent panic attack. There were no differences in trait anxiety levels between pregnant and non pregnant women, and women with Panic Disorder and/or a recent panic attack had higher trait anxiety compared to women without Panic Disorder and/or a recent panic attack, regardless of pregnancy status. After controlling for demographics, Panic Disorder and higher trait anxiety were significant predictors of greater amounts of alcohol consumption in pregnant and non-pregnant women. In addition, non-pregnant women with high trait anxiety consumed greater amounts of alcohol than pregnant women with high trait anxiety. Furthermore, race and panic attacks were both predictors of being at-risk for problematic drinking. Overall, current study findings support the need to examine Panic Disorder, panic attacks, and trait anxiety, as potential risk factors for alcohol use among pregnant and non-pregnant women in the community. Study findings have important implications for assessment and treatment of panic, anxiety, and alcohol use.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Psychology Commons