Panic-relevant cognitive processes among smokers

Kenneth Abrams, Laura Schlosser, Kate Leger, Katelyn Donisch, Andrew Widmer, Anna Minkina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


To further understand the frequent co-occurrence of smoking and panic disorder (PD), we examined panic-relevant cognitive processes among heavy smokers, half of whom were in 12-hour withdrawal, and nonsmokers. All participants (N = 85) underwent a 5-minute carbon dioxide rebreathing challenge. Prior to the challenge, participants completed questionnaires on reasons for smoking, anxiety sensitivity, and suffocation fear. Results are consistent with a model in which smokers with predisposing risk factors (high anxiety sensitivity and high suffocation fear) misappraise bodily sensations and experience panicky symptoms. No evidence was found that being in acute withdrawal heightened this risk. Overall, findings highlight (a) cognitive vulnerabilities that may place smokers at elevated risk for developing PD and hence (b) potential targets for intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-81
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011


  • Anxiety sensitivity
  • Cognitive processes
  • Panic disorder
  • Smoking
  • Suffocation fear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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