Increased cardiac awareness in panic disorder.
Ehlers A., Breuer P.
We investigated cardiac perception in panic disorder with both self-report and objective measures. In Study 1, 120 patients with panic disorder, 86 infrequent panickers, and 38 patients with other anxiety disorders reported greater cardiac and gastrointestinal awareness than 62 normal control subjects. Subjects with panic attacks reported greater cardiac awareness, but not gastrointestinal awareness, than those with other anxiety disorders. Studies 2 and 3 included a test of heart rate perception in which subjects silently counted their heart-beats without taking their pulse. In Study 2, 65 panic disorder patients showed better performance than 50 infrequent panickers, 27 patients with simple phobias, and 46 normal control subjects. No group differences were found in ability to estimate time intervals. In Study 3, 13 patients with panic disorder and 15 with generalized anxiety disorder showed better heart rate perception than 16 depressed patients.