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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1997 Apr;65(2):214-20.

Body vigilance in panic disorder: evaluating attention to bodily perturbations.

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  • 1Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799, USA.


Body vigilance, consciously attending to internal cues, is a normal adaptive process. The present report investigated whether body vigilance is exaggerated among those with panic disorder, a condition characterized by intense fear and worry regarding bodily sensations. The Body Vigilance Scale is validated in nonclinical and anxiety disorder samples. Study 1 suggests that body vigilance is normally distributed in a nonclinical sample (n = 472) but vigilance is related to a history of spontaneous panic attacks, anxiety symptomatology, and anxiety sensitivity. Study 2 suggests that body vigilance is elevated in panic disorder patients (n = 48) relative to social phobia patients (n = 18) and nonclinical controls (n = 71). During cognitive-behavioral treatment, panic disorder patients show substantial reductions in body vigilance associated with reductions in anxiety symptomatology. Anxiety sensitivity was found to be related to body vigilance and to predict changes in body vigilance during treatment.

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