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Hypochondriasis Differs From Panic Disorder and Social Phobia: Specific Processes Identified Within Patient Groups

Höfling, Volkmar PhD; Weck, Florian PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: March 2017 - Volume 205 - Issue 3 - p 227–233
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000613
Original Articles

Studies of the comorbidity of hypochondriasis have indicated high rates of cooccurrence with other anxiety disorders. In this study, the contrast among hypochondriasis, panic disorder, and social phobia was investigated using specific processes drawing on cognitive-perceptual models of hypochondriasis. Affective, behavioral, cognitive, and perceptual processes specific to hypochondriasis were assessed with 130 diagnosed participants based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, criteria (66 with hypochondriasis, 32 with panic disorder, and 32 with social phobia). All processes specific to hypochondriasis were more intense for patients with hypochondriasis in contrast to those with panic disorder or social phobia (0.61 < d < 2.67). No differences were found between those with hypochondriasis with comorbid disorders and those without comorbid disorders. Perceptual processes were shown to best discriminate between patients with hypochondriasis and those with panic disorder.

*Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Institute of Psychology, Goethe University Frankfurt; and †Department of Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy, and Experimental Psychopathology, Institute of Psychology, University of Mainz, Germany.

This research was supported by grant WE 4654/2 from the German Research Foundation.

Send reprint requests to Volkmar Höfling, PhD, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Institute of Psychology, Goethe University Frankfurt, Varrentrappstrasse 40-42, 60486 Frankfurt, Germany. E-mail:

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