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Differential effects of anxiety and depression on interoceptive accuracy



Background: Feedback from the body is assumed to be altered in depression. Nevertheless, empirical studies investigating this assumed relationship remain sparse. This study aimed to examine interrelations between the ability to perceive heartbeats accurately (interoceptive awareness), depressive symptoms, and anxiety in healthy participants. Methods: A well-validated heartbeat perception task to measure interoceptive awareness together with two questionnaires indexing anxiety and depression were administered to 119 participants. Results: As main results we observed a negative correlation between heartbeat perception and depression. Only when focussing on high anxiety levels this negative correlation coefficient between depression and interoception remained significant. Conclusions: Our results highlight the possible relationship between depressive symptoms and interoceptive awareness and may have further implications for theoretical models of anxiety disorders and their treatment. Further research is required to examine the potential consequences of altering interoceptive awareness in healthy subjects in relation to depression and anxiety. Depression and Anxiety, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.