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Negative autobiographical memories in social anxiety disorder: A comparison with panic disorder and healthy controls

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Empirical interest in mental imagery in social anxiety disorder (SAD) has grown over the past years but still little is known about the specificity to SAD. The present study therefore examines negative autobiographical memories in participants with social anxiety disorder (SAD), compared to patients with panic disorder (PD), and healthy controls (HCs).

METHODS: A total of 107 participants retrieved four memories cued by verbal phrases associated with either social anxiety (SA) or panic anxiety (PA), with two memories for each cue category.

RESULTS: PA-cued memories were experienced with stronger imagery and as more traumatic. They were also rated as more central to identity than SA-cued memories, but not among participants with SAD, who perceived SA-cued memories as equally central to their identity. When between-group effects were detected, participants with anxiety disorders differed from HCs, but not from each other.

LIMITATIONS: Central limitations include reliance on self-report measures, comorbidity in the anxiety disorder groups, and lack of a neutrally cued memory comparison.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings align with models of SAD suggesting that past negative social events play a central role in this disorder. Future research is suggested to further explore the function of negative memories, not only in SAD, but also in other anxiety disorders.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Pages (from-to)223-30
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

    Research areas

  • Adult, Anxiety Disorders, Case-Control Studies, Cues, Emotions, Female, Humans, Imagination, Male, Memory, Episodic, Panic Disorder, Self Concept, Social Behavior, Young Adult, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

ID: 49869567