Patients with anxiety think they have more physiological problems than they really have

November 13, 2008,

A doctoral thesis carried out at the University of Granada, Spain, has proved that patients with serious anxiety disorders (panic disorder with and without agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder or generalized anxiety disorder) think they suffer more physiological (palpitations, sweating, irregular breathing, shaking of the hands and muscular tension...) than they really have. In other words, although many patients with anxiety disorders have orally reported very intense physiological symptoms in surveys and questionaires, they are hyporeactive when real measures of such symptoms are taken through physiological tests.

This research work has been carried out by Professor Mª Isabel Viedma del Jesus and supervised by dirigida Professors Jaime Vila Castellar and Mª Carmen Fernández- Santaella, of the department of Personality, Evaluation and Physiological Treatment. It was carried out with 83 patients who had been diagnosed any of the following anxiety disorders: panic disorder with and without agoraphobia, social anxiety, generalized anxiety and specific phobias. They all were looked after in the of "Evaluation and Treatment of Anxiety Disorders" of the Clinical Psychology Unit of the Faculty of Psychology.

Less serious patients

This work has also revealed that those patients who suffer a less serious anxiety disorder, such as those who have been diagnosed specific phbias (excessive and irrational fear irracional of a certain object or situation, such as certain animals, blood or open wounds, heights, storms, closed spaces...) show a high reactivity in the physiological tests. Viedma stresses the existence of relationship between the capacity to ract physiologically and the prognosis of therapeutic success, as it is patients with specific phobias who benefit most of the cognitive- behavioural treatment. Therefore, we can state that the presence of physiological symptoms is a good improvement predictor in anxiety disorder patients.

Prevalencie in society

In accordance with the researcher, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent psycho-pathological problem in European countries. According to US statistics, the prevalence of specific phobias ranges between 8.8 and 12.5% of the general population. Although few of the persons who show specific fears come into the category of phobic, nearly 11% of such people have fears serious enough to affect their lives significantly.

The researcher emphasizes that, in the light of the results of her research work, it has been proved that, in the clinical evaluation of pathological anxiety should not only undergo cognitive-behavioural tests (traditionally consisting of surveys and questionnaires), but also psycho-physiological tests. "Our research work –Mª Isabel Viedma says- has important clinical implications with regard to the diagnose and prognosis of therapeutic success, as well as in the design of more effective intervention strategies in the field of anxiety disorders".

Part of the conclusions of this research work have been recently presented in national and international conferences such as those organized by the "Spanish Society of Psychophysiology" (SEPF) and the "Society for Psychophysiological Research" (SPR), among others.

Source: Universidad de Granada

Explore further: New approaches in neuroscience show it's not all in your head

Related Stories

New approaches in neuroscience show it's not all in your head

February 16, 2018
Our own unique experiences shape how we view the world and respond to the events in our lives. But experience is highly subjective. What's distressing or joyful to one person may be very different to another.

Study helps map signaling system in brain linked to ASD

February 9, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University have worked out part of the "wiring diagram" of a signaling system in the brain that has been linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Child development experts discover potential upside to prenatal stress

February 7, 2018
Prenatal stress might not be so bad for babies after all, depending on how they are raised.

Neuroscientists shed light on causes of postpartum depression using new research model

December 26, 2017
Postpartum depression strikes nearly one in five new mothers, who may experience anxiety, severe fatigue, inability to bond with their children and suicidal thoughts. Such depression has also been associated with infants' ...

Driven by ego? This book's for you

January 17, 2018
Psychiatrist Mark Epstein '75 studied Buddhism alongside social relations as a Harvard undergrad, forging a path he would follow through Harvard Medical School and beyond. Based in New York, Epstein is the author of several ...

Researchers outline barriers to treating fear and anxiety

September 9, 2016
A misunderstanding of how the certain parts of the brain function has hampered the creation of pharmaceuticals to effectively address fear and anxiety disorders, a pair of researchers has concluded. Their analysis, which ...

Recommended for you

Building better tiny kidneys to test drugs and help people avoid dialysis

February 16, 2018
A free online kidney atlas built by USC researchers empowers stem cell scientists everywhere to generate more human-like tiny kidneys for testing new drugs and creating renal replacement therapies.

Expanding Hepatitis C testing to all adults is cost-effective and improves outcomes

February 16, 2018
According to a new study, screening all adults for hepatitis C (HCV) is a cost-effective way to improve clinical outcomes of HCV and identify more infected people compared to current recommendations. Using a simulation model, ...

Study suggests expanded range for emerging tick-borne disease

February 16, 2018
Human cases of Borrelia miyamotoi, a tick-borne infection with some similarities to Lyme disease, were discovered in the eastern United States less than a decade ago. Now new research led by the Yale School of Public Health ...

Flu shot only 36 percent effective, making bad year worse (Update)

February 15, 2018
The flu vaccine is doing a poor job protecting older Americans and others against the bug that's causing most illnesses.

IFN-mediated immunity to influenza A virus infection influenced by RIPK3 protein

February 15, 2018
Each year, influenza kills half a million people globally with the elderly and very young most often the victims. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 37 children have died in the United States ...

A new class of drug to treat herpes simplex virus-1 infection

February 14, 2018
For patients with the herpes simplex-1 virus (HSV-1), there are just a handful of drugs available to treat the painful condition that can affect the eyes, mouth and genitals.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.