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Are Panic And Inability To Express Emotions Related?

Date:
June 5, 2008
Source:
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Summary:
Investigators have explored the inability to express emotions (alexithymia) in panic disorder in an article in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. In patients with panic disorder (PD), the difficulty to identify and manage emotional experience might contribute to the enduring vulnerability to panic attacks. Such a difficulty might reflect a dysfunction of fronto-temporo-limbic circuits. The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that drug-free patients with PD, as compared with healthy subjects (HS), show a higher prevalence of alexithymia, greater difficulty in emotional stimuli processing and poorer performance on neuropsychological tests exploring the activity of fronto-temporo-limbic circuits.
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Investigators of the University of Naples have explored the inability to express emotions (alexithymia) in panic disorder.

In patients with panic disorder (PD), the difficulty to identify and manage emotional experience might contribute to the enduring vulnerability to panic attacks. Such a difficulty might reflect a dysfunction of fronto-temporo-limbic circuits. The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that drug-free patients with PD, as compared with healthy subjects (HS), show a higher prevalence of alexithymia, greater difficulty in emotional stimuli processing and poorer performance on neuropsychological tests exploring the activity of fronto-temporo-limbic circuits.

Alexithymia, general cognitive abilities, focused and sustained attention, working memory, secondary memory, incidental learning, susceptibility to interference from both cognitive and emotional stimuli, and ability to recognize facial emotional expressions were assessed in 32 drug-free patients with PD and 32 HS. Alexithymia was more frequent in patients with PD than in HS. Patients with PD, as compared to HS, had lower verbal cognitive abilities and more difficulty to inhibit interference from nonverbal stimuli and from panic-related words; they performed better than HS on the test assessing spatial incidental learning. Anxiety, panic symptomatology and verbal cognitive abilities (VIQ) were associated with alexithymia.

Findings are compatible with a dysfunction of frontolimbic circuits, in particular orbitofrontal and cingulate cortices. A reduction in verbal cognitive abilities was also observed, which might suggest reduced abstraction and symbolization in these patients.


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Galderisi et al. Alexithymia and Cognitive Dysfunctions in Patients with Panic Disorder. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 2008; 77 (3): 182 DOI: 10.1159/000119738

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Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. "Are Panic And Inability To Express Emotions Related?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080602155657.htm>.
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. (2008, June 5). Are Panic And Inability To Express Emotions Related?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080602155657.htm
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. "Are Panic And Inability To Express Emotions Related?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080602155657.htm (accessed September 2, 2015).

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