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(p. 131) Exposure to Feared Symptoms and Situations 

(p. 131) Exposure to Feared Symptoms and Situations

David H. Barlow

and Michelle G. Craske

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date: 20 May 2022

This chapter addresses the value of facing physical symptoms of panic and anxiety. Fear of physical symptoms is central to panic disorder. Indeed, being afraid of physical symptoms leads to more physical symptoms, since the symptoms are the natural result of anxiety and fear. This is part of the panic cycle. It is thus important to face the physical symptoms directly so that one can learn that the symptoms are not harmful; that one can handle the symptoms and the anxiety; and that, eventually, the anxiety about the physical symptoms will decrease. The reasons why fears of physical symptoms persist include avoidance behavior, mistaken beliefs, and interoceptive conditioning. The chapter then looks at symptom exercises and outlines the rules for the repeated practice with physical symptoms.

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