Somatic Manifestations in Women With Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Psychophysiological Responses to Psychological Stress

Rudolf Hoehn Saric, Daniel R. Mcleod, Wesley D. Zimmerli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Generalized anxiety disorder is associated with symptoms that suggest heightened muscular tension and autonomic arousal. Since self-reports of physiological states in patients with anxiety disorder are frequently unreliable, we compared 20 female patients with generalized anxiety disorder with a matched group of nonanxious controls on a battery of psychophysiological assessments (skin conductance, heart interbeat interval, blood pressure, respiration, and forehead and gastrocnemius electromyographic activity). We found that during baseline patients with generalized anxiety disorder differed from controls on electromyographic, but not on autonomic, measures. During psychological stress tasks, patients with generalized anxiety disorder showed a weaker mean skin conductance response with a narrower range in both skin conductance and heart rate than controls. These findings suggest that sympathetic inhibition, rather than enhancement, occurs in patients with generalized anxiety disorder during performance stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1113-1119
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of general psychiatry
Volume46
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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