Heartbeat perception in panic disorder: a reanalysis
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This article describes a reanalysis of seven studies on heart beat perception (HBP) in panic disorder. The pooled sample had 709 participants from eight diagnostic categories. Accurate HBP was uncommon, but more prevalent among panic disorder patients than among healthy controls, depressed patients, patients with palpitations and individuals with infrequent panic attacks. No differences were found between panic disorder patients and patients with other anxiety disorders. Accurate perceivers had higher anxiety sensitivity scores than inaccurate perceivers. The data remain inconclusive as to whether perceived heart rate is correlated with anxiety in inaccurate perceivers. Physical exercise, distraction, variations in instructions and treatment each influenced HBP. However, the influence was different than previously thought. Finally, it is suggested that HBP may be understood in terms of schema-guided information processing.
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