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Interoceptive hypersensitivity and interoceptive exposure in patients with panic disorder: specificity and effectiveness

DOI: 10.1186/1471-244x-6-32

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Abstract:

We first performed an exploratory principal factor analysis of all the items contained in the BSQ to obtain meaningful dimensions of interoceptive fears. Next, we examined the correlations between each interoceptive exposure task's degree of similarity to panic attacks and each BSQ factor and then examined whether the BSQ factor scores decreased in comparison with the baseline values when the corresponding exposure tasks were successfully completed by the subjects.The factor analyses revealed four factors, which we named "pseudoneurological fears", "gastrointestinal fears", "cardiorespiratory fears" and "fears of dissociative feelings." Among the nine interoceptive exposure tasks, 'hyperventilation', 'shaking head', 'holding breath' and 'chest breathing' were considered to reproduce pseudoneurological symptoms, 'breathing through a straw' was considered to reproduce gastrointestinal symptoms, and 'spinning' was considered to reproduce both pseudoneurological and dissociative symptoms; none of the interoceptive exercises were found to reproduce cardiorespiratory symptoms. Among each group of patients for whom 'hyperventilation', 'holding breath', 'spinning' or 'chest breathing' was effective, a significant improvement in the BSQ pseudoneurological fears factor scores was observed. On the other hand, no significant difference between the baseline and endpoint values of the BSQ gastrointestinal fears or the BSQ fears of dissociative feelings factor scores were observed among the patients for whom 'spinning' or 'breathing through a straw' was effective.Several interoceptive exposure tasks were particularly effective in reducing pseudoneurological fears. New interoceptive tasks, especially tasks related to cardiorespiratory and dissociative feelings, are needed.Panic disorder is a common but disabling anxiety disorder. The chief defining criteria for panic disorder are recurrent unexpected panic attacks, persistent concern about having an additional attack, and worry abo

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