Interoception and panic disorder
Somatic sensations are not only a core symptom of panic attacks, but they are also considered the primary trigger of the attacks according to recent psychological models. Studying interoception in panic disorder may help to specify situational factors of panic attacks and to explain why some people are more prone to panic attacks than others. Our research program identified three characteristics of panic disorder patients which may contribute to why they notice more bodily symptoms, tend to respond with anxiety when they experience such symptoms and tend to avoid situations in which such symptoms occur. Panic patients demonstrated an enhanced ability to perceive their heart rate, they tended to shift their attention towards physically threatening cues and they rated bodily symptoms associated with anxiety or panic as more dangerous. These factors may be involved in the development and maintenance of panic disorder. © 1993.