Twenty-eight anxiety patients, aged below 50 years, were diagnosed according to DSM-III-R criteria (panic disorder with and without agoraphobia, generalised anxiety disorder, and anxiety disorder not otherwise specified). The patients were characterised by high levels of state and trait anxiety and neuroticism, compared with the controls. However, there were no differences between patients and controls in electrodermal habituation rate, non-specific activity, or skin resistance level. When the patients were divided into electrodermally labile and stable subjects, significant differences were found between patients and controls in both electrodermal activity and Eysenck's personality dimensions. The labile patients were more introverted and attained higher psychoticism scores than either the stable patients or controls. Duration of anxiety symptoms removed the difference found in extroversion, but not in any other variable. The results are discussed in relation to the utility of electrodermal measurements in validation of diagnostic entities. It is concluded, that from the psychophysiological point of view, anxiety disorders may be examined within a dimensional framework.
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