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Autobiographical Memories Prompted by Automatic Thoughts in Panic Disorder and Social Phobia

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This study examined the retrieval of autobiographical memories when prompted by automatic thoughts that were representative of maladaptive schema content specific to 2 anxiety disorders. Participants with panic disorder ( n  = 20), those with social phobia ( n  = 22) and non‐anxious participants ( n  = 20) indicated the first specific memory that came to mind when cued with panic‐related, social phobia‐related and control automatic thoughts. Panic participants retrieved memories cued with panic disorder‐related automatic thoughts more quickly than social phobic and non‐anxious participants, and social phobic participants retrieved memories cued with social phobia‐related automatic thoughts more quickly than non‐anxious participants. Relative to non‐anxious participants, participants in both patient groups retrieved more anxious/worried memories when cued with automatic thoughts related to their diagnosis and more fearful memories when cued with either type of diagnosis‐related automatic thought. Results indicate that panic and social phobic participants were characterized by general threat‐relevant autobiographical memory biases.

Keywords: autobiographical memory; automatic thoughts; panic disorder; schema; social phobia

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Pennsylvania, Nova Southeastern University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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