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Somatic Symptoms of specific phobias

Somatic Symptoms
When specific phobics are not confronting their feared object, they experience the least severe and debilitating anxiety disorder, generally demonstrating relatively normal levels of trait anxiety. Such subjective reports are supported by physiological assessment, which also demonstrates that specific phobics in chronic arousal are not different from normal controls. When confronting their feared situations, specific phobics report a number of common anxietyrelated somatic symptoms, including palpitations, trembling, and sweating.
Physiologically, many studies demonstrated increases in indexes of arousal in specific phobics upon exposure to their feared cues, although results are not always consistent, and desynchrony between response systems has commonly been noted. In one careful and detailed study, ten animal phobic females were scored on a series of measures (e.g., state anxiety, blood pressure, epinephrine, and cortisol) during in vivo exposure sessions. Most measures showed marked increases during exposure compared to control periods, although the measure of subjective units of discomfort evidenced the most consistent increase.
As mentioned before, many blood and injury phobics are characterized by a unique physiological response to their feared cues. Page argued that there may be two subtypes of blood/injury phobia. One group shows the usual sympathetic reaction to blood/injury cues described before. The other group shows an initial increase in heart rate and blood pressure followed by a dramatic drop in these measures, often leading to fainting. Associated with this different physiological reaction, many blood/injury phobics report a feeling of disgust on exposure to their feared cues, distinct from the more usual reports of fear found with other phobias. In fact, several types of phobias are characterized more strongly by the emotion of disgust rather than fear, and it is possible that this is an alternate method of subtyping phobias.

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