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Expert Rev Neurother. 2007 Feb;7(2):129-41.

Physiological evaluation of psychological treatments for anxiety.

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VA Palo Alto Health Care System, (116-PAD), 3801 Miranda Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA.


Classification of mental disorders has been greatly influenced by a medical model postulating biological abnormalities that underlie its divisions. Particularly in anxiety disorders, physiological symptoms are part of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual criteria. Therefore, successful therapy should influence physiological as well as cognitive-verbal expressions of anxiety. Nevertheless, despite the well-known limitations of self-report, physiological outcome measures have only occasionally been employed. We searched the literature for treatment studies that attempted to make a physiological argument for the efficacy of a psychological treatment for anxiety. Our search found only a few methodologically sound examples, where normalization of self-report and physiological measures corresponded. The most convincing studies dealt with the treatment of specific phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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