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

ArticleinJournal of Anxiety Disorders 10(5):393-410 · September 1996with8 Reads
Impact Factor: 2.96 · 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.