Can you feel the beat? Interoceptive awareness is an interactive function of anxiety- and depression-specific symptom dimensions

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Abstract

Delineating the differential effects of anxiety versus depression on patterns of information processing has proved challenging. The tripartite model of mood disorders (Clark & Watson, 1991) suggests that one way forward is to adopt a dimensional rather than categorical approach, making it possible to explore the main and interaction effects of depression- and anxiety-specific symptoms on a given cognitive-affective process. Here we examined how the interplay of anxiety-specific arousal and depression-specific anhedonia symptoms in the same individuals relate to interoceptive (bodily) awareness. 113 participants with varying levels of mood disorder symptoms completed a heartbeat perception task to assess interoceptive accuracy. Superior interoception was associated with anxiety-specific arousal symptoms, and this relationship held when controlling for depression-specific anhedonia symptoms and shared general distress symptoms. This main effect was qualified by an interaction between anhedonia and arousal. As anhedonia symptoms increased in severity, the relationship between arousal and interoceptive accuracy became less strong. These results further validate the tripartite framework, help clarify the mixed existing literature on interoception in mood disorders, and suggest that considering the unique and interactive effects of different symptom dimensions is a useful strategy to help identify the cognitive-affective profiles associated with anxiety and depression. © 2010.

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Dunn, B. D., Stefanovitch, I., Evans, D., Oliver, C., Hawkins, A., & Dalgleish, T. (2010). Can you feel the beat? Interoceptive awareness is an interactive function of anxiety- and depression-specific symptom dimensions. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 48(11), 1133–1138. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2010.07.006

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