, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 397-406
Date: 10 Jul 2011

Specificity of Peritraumatic Fear in Predicting Anxious Reactivity to a Biological Challenge among Traumatic Event-Exposed Adolescents

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Theory implicates peritraumatic fear-based interoceptive conditioning in the development of panic spectrum problems subsequent to traumatic event exposure. Relatively little empirical work has directly investigated this hypothesis. The current study tested the hypothesis that level of peritraumatic fear would predict anxious reactivity to a well-established 3-min voluntary hyperventilation procedure administered to 63 adolescents who had experienced a DSM-IV-TR-defined traumatic event. This relation was examined after controlling for variance accounted for by posttraumatic stress symptoms, sex, age, anxiety sensitivity, general symptoms of psychopathology, and both peritraumatic helplessness and disgust. As predicted, peritraumatic fear was related to anxious reactivity to hyperventilation-elicited bodily arousal. Specificity tests suggested this relation was specific to peritraumatic fear. Prospective research is now needed to better elucidate the relation between peritraumatic fear and subsequent development of anxious reactivity to bodily arousal and panic spectrum problems.