Habitual Response to Stress in Recovering Adolescent Anorexic Patients
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- Miller, S.P., Erickson, S.J., Branom, C. et al. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev (2009) 40: 43. doi:10.1007/s10578-008-0112-y
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Objective Although previous research has investigated the stress response in acutely anorexic patients, there is currently little research addressing this response in recovering adolescent anorexic girls. Therefore, this study investigated partially and fully weight-restored anorexic adolescent girls’ psychological and physiological response to a standardized stressor. Methods We measured the heart rate and affect of 17 adolescent recovering anorexic patients and 40 healthy age-matched controls during two conditions of the Stress Induced Speech Task (SIST): Free Association and Stress Task. Recovering patients were either partially or fully weight-restored. Results Compared to the controls, the recovering anorexic girls reported greater overall habitual psychological distress and higher levels of negative affect during the standardized stressor. However, recovering patients did not show a muted heart rate response during the stressor. Neither recovering anorexics nor controls demonstrated a correspondence between heart rate and positive or negative affect. Discussion Although the physiological stress response of recovering adolescent anorexic patients was similar to controls, the psychological response of partially and fully weight-restored anorexic adolescents appears similar to that of acutely anorexic adolescents. Treatment implications are discussed in terms of the persistence of negative affect and treatment resistance.