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OBJECTIVES - Patients with postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) often appear anxious and report inattention. Patients with POTS were formally assessed for psychiatric disorders and inattention and compared with patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and control subjects.
METHODS - Patients with POTS (n = 21), ADHD (n = 18) and normal control subjects (n = 20) were assessed for DSM-IV psychiatric disorders and completed a battery of questionnaires that assessed depression, anxiety and ADHD characteristics.
RESULTS - Patients with POTS did not have an increased prevalence of major depression or anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, compared with the general population. Patients with POTS had mild depression. They scored as moderately anxious on the Beck Anxiety Inventory but did not exhibit a high level of anxiety sensitivity. Patients with POTS scored significantly higher on inattention and ADHD subscales than control subjects. These symptoms were not present during childhood.
CONCLUSIONS - Patients with POTS do not have an increased lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorders. Although they may seem anxious, they do not have excess cognitive anxiety. They do experience significant inattention which may be an important source of disability.