Alexithymia and anxiety sensitivity in populations at high risk for panic disorder

Michele Cucchi, Daniele Cavadini, Vittoria Bottelli, Liana Riccia, Vera Conca, Paolo Ronchi, Enrico Smeraldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Populations at high risk for panic disorder (PD) probably share with subjects with PD an underlying vulnerability involving features like anxiety sensitivity (AS) and alexithymia. The present study would verify if PD relatives (R) and subjects who have experienced 1 or more panic attacks (PAs) show different levels of AS and alexithymia with respect to healthy controls (HC). Methods: One hundred fifty-seven HCs, 30 subjects with PA, 64 R subjects, and 139 outpatients with PD were evaluated and compared on AS, alexithymia, and control variables. Results: Subjects with PD show higher alexithymia and AS levels compared with HCs; R subjects do not differ on ASI total score; and R females show more alexithymic features. Subjects with PA are comparable with HCs both on AS and alexithymia. Conclusions: Results confirm an impairment in emotional and bodily sensations information processing in subjects with PD but partially disconfirm the expectation of a difference between R subjects and subjects with PA with respect to HCs on AS and alexithymia. Emotional and bodily sensation competencies could be protective factors for PD in high-risk populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)868-874
Number of pages7
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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