Facial emotion recognition in panic disorder: a mini-review of behavioural studies.

Francesca Bottinelli, Giuseppe Delvecchio, Chiara Moltrasio, Adele Ferro, Vaibhav A. Diwadkar, Paolo Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Panic Disorder (PD) is characterized by unexpected and repeated moments of intense fear or anxiety, which manifest themselves through strong cognitive and behavioural symptoms. However, a clear picture of how impairments in recognition and processing of facial emotions affect the everyday life of PD patients has yet to be delineated. This review attempts to provide an overview of behavioural studies of emotion detection from facial stimuli in PD patients. Methods: A bibliographic research on PubMed of all studies investigating the recognition and processing of facial emotion stimuli in patients with PD and in high-risk offspring was performed, and nine articles (yrs: 2000 to 2019) were discovered. Results: In several of the reviewed studies, PD patients showed significant deficits in detecting (particularly negative) emotions in facial stimuli. These impairments were also found in the offspring of parents with PD and high-risk individuals. Limitations: Inferences are constrained by methodological heterogeneity, included but not limited to cross-study variability in the stimuli employed, and in the clinical characterization of PD patients. Conclusions: In general, the results of this survey confirm that deficits in processing facially conveyed negative emotions should be considered a core impairment in PD. However, future larger and more homogenous studies are warranted to better highlight the connection between emotion recognition and PD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-178
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2021


  • facial emotion recognition
  • high risk
  • offspring
  • Panic disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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