Carbon dioxide inhalation induces dose-dependent and age-related negative affectivity.
PLoS One. 2007 Oct 3;2(10):e987.

Griez EJ, Colasanti A, van Diest R, Salamon E, Schruers K.

Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

BACKGROUND: Carbon dioxide inhalation is known to induce an emotion similar to spontaneous panic in Panic Disorder patients. The affective response to carbon dioxide in healthy subjects was not clearly characterized yet. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Sixty-four healthy subjects underwent a double inhalation of four mixtures containing respectively 0, 9, 17.5 and 35% CO(2) in compressed air, following a double blind, cross-over, randomized design. Affective responses were assessed according to DSM IV criteria for panic, using an Electronic Visual Analogue Scale and the Panic Symptom List. It was demonstrated that carbon dioxide challenges induced a dose dependent negative affect (p<0.0001). This affect was semantically identical to the DSM IV definition of panic. Older individuals were subjectively less sensitive to Carbon Dioxide (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: CO(2) induced affectivity may lay on a continuum with pathological panic attacks. Consistent with earlier suggestions that panic is a false biological alarm, the affective response to CO(2) may be part of a protective system triggered by suffocation and acute metabolic distress.

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