Anxiety sensitivity and menstrual cycle reactivity: Psychophysiological and self-report differences

University of Maine USA
Journal of Anxiety Disorders (Impact Factor: 2.96). 09/1996; 10(5):393-410. DOI: 10.1016/0887-6185(96)00019-9


The role of anxiety sensitivity in the etiology and maintenance of various anxiety disorders has received increased attention over the past decade. To date, no studies have empirically addressed the relationship between anxiety sensitivity, physiological reactivity, and self-reports of anxiety symptomatology across the menstrual cycle. In this study, high- and low-anxiety sensitivity women in either the premenstrual or intermenstrual phase of the menstrual cycle completed questionnaires and listened to anxiety and neutral scenes while psychophysiological data were collected. In addition, mood ratings were obtained at baseline and after scene presentations. High anxiety sensitivity sitivity participants scored higher on measures of anxiety, depression, and menstrual distress than low anxiety sensitivity females. Premenstrually, high anxiety sensitivity females exhibited greater skin conductance response frequency and magnitude to the anxiety scenes compared to the other three groups. Similar results were obtained when initial levels of state anxiety and panic history were controlled for statistically. Furthermore, high anxiety sensitivity females reported more anxiety and depressed mood following presentation of anxiety scenes. Implications of these results for the mediation of menstrual cycle timing and anxiety sensitivity hypotheses are discussed.

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    • "However, that study differed from the current study in the menstrual cycle phases assessed (menstrual vs. luteal) and in the sample used (PD patients vs. controls). The current findings also are inconsistent with prior research that reported increases in SCL in the premenstrual vs. intermenstrual phase in PD patients vs. controls (Sigmon et al. 2000) and in nonclinical participants with high vs. low AS following an induced external stressor (Sigmon et al. 1996). However, in contrast to those studies, the current study considered AS as a continuous variable rather than as a dichotomous grouping variable (high vs. low AS), and employed a different panic provocation paradigm. "
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    ABSTRACT: The current study examined the interactive effects of anxiety sensitivity (AS; fear of anxiety and anxiety-related sensations) and menstrual cycle phase (premenstrual phase vs. follicular phase) on panic-relevant responding (i.e., cognitive and physical panic symptoms, subjective anxiety, and skin conductance level). Women completed a baseline session and underwent a 3-min 10 % CO(2)-enriched air biological challenge paradigm during her premenstrual and follicular menstrual cycle phases. Participants were 55 women with no current or past history of panic disorder recruited from the general community (M (age) = 26.18, SD = 8.9) who completed the biological challenge during both the premenstrual and follicular cycle phases. Results revealed that women higher on AS demonstrated increased cognitive panic symptoms in response to the challenge during the premenstrual phase as compared to the follicular phase, and as compared to women lower on AS assessed in either cycle phase. However, the interaction of AS and menstrual cycle phase did not significantly predict physical panic attack symptoms, subjective ratings of anxiety, or skin conductance level in response to the challenge. Results are discussed in the context of premenstrual exacerbations of cognitive, as opposed to physical, panic attack symptoms for high AS women, and the clinical implications of these findings.
    Archives of Women s Mental Health 08/2012; 15(6). DOI:10.1007/s00737-012-0302-2 · 2.16 Impact Factor
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    • "The closest test to the proposed model thus far examined the interaction between AS (high vs. low) and menstrual cycle phase [intermenstrual (Days 8–22) vs. premenstrual] in response to a stressor induced in the laboratory (e.g., listening to anxiety provoking scenes). Women high on AS measured in their premenstrual phase displayed greater SCR frequency and magnitude in response to listening to anxiety scenes as compared to women high on AS assessed in the intermenstrual phase and low AS women assessed in either cycle phase (Sigmon et al., 1996). Other studies examining women with PD across different phases of the menstrual cycle in response to an external stressor have been consistent with the above pattern of findings (Perna et al., 1995; Sigmon et al., 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: The 2:1 female-to-male sex difference in the prevalence of panic disorder (PD) suggests that there is a sex-specific vulnerability involved in the etiology and/or maintenance of this disorder. The purpose of this paper is to present a new conceptual model, which emphasizes the interaction between a cognitive vulnerability for PD, anxiety sensitivity, and the effects of progesterone and its metabolite, allopregnanolone, on behavioral and physiological responses to stress during the premenstrual phase. This interaction is proposed to be a potential sex-specific pathway that may initiate and/or maintain panic and anxiety symptoms in women. This review paper presents preliminary evidence from both the human and animal literatures to support this new model. Specific topics reviewed include: psychopathology related to the menstrual cycle, anxiety sensitivity and its relationship to the menstrual cycle, PMS, and PMDD, anxiety-modulating effects of progesterone and its neuroactive metabolite, allopregnanolone, and how results from the neuroendocrine literature relate to psychopathology or symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle.
    Clinical psychology review 07/2011; 31(7):1183-91. DOI:10.1016/j.cpr.2011.07.006 · 7.18 Impact Factor
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    • "Suddenly, you can't breathe, your chest feels tight, and you think, this is it, I am going to die. " ) in comparison to women higher on AS assessed in the intermenstrual phase and women lower on AS assessed in either cycle phase, above and beyond baseline level of state anxiety or panic history (Sigmon et al., 1996). These findings were replicated in a comparison of women with PD vs. nonanxious controls (Sigmon et al., 2000b). "
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    ABSTRACT: The current study examined the incremental validity of self-reported premenstrual distress in predicting panic responsivity (self-reported panic symptoms and skin conductance response frequency; SCR) following inhalation of 10% CO(2)-enriched air. A community sample of young adult women (n=46) completed questionnaires assessing substance use patterns, premenstrual symptoms and distress, and anxiety sensitivity and underwent a laboratory biological challenge procedure (4-min 10% CO(2)-enriched air inhalation). As hypothesized, higher premenstrual distress scores significantly predicted greater self-reported panic symptoms following the CO(2) challenge above and beyond other theoretically relevant variables (anxiety sensitivity, cigarette use, and alcohol consumption). In predicting SCR, premenstrual distress exhibited only a trend towards statistical significance. These findings provide preliminary evidence that premenstrual symptoms may serve as a potential risk factor to experience more intense panic symptoms in response to perturbations in bodily sensations.
    Journal of anxiety disorders 02/2010; 24(4):416-22. DOI:10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.02.006 · 2.68 Impact Factor
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