Background: Depersonalization disorder (DPD) entails distressing alterations in self-experiencing. However, it has long been recognized that depersonalisation symptoms occur in other disorders, particularly anxiety and panic. One strand of research proposes that depersonalization phenomenology arises through altered autonomic arousal in response to stress. Sampling and Methods: We sought to examine profiles of anxiety symptoms through a secondary data analysis of individual items and factor subscales on the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), comparing two relatively large patient samples with DPD or with a variety of anxiety conditions, respectively. The DPD sample (n = 106) had a lower overall BAI score than the combined anxiety disorders group (n = 525). Results: After controlling for this as well as for potential confounders such as age and gender, the DPD group presented significantly lower scores on the panic subscale, marginally lower scores on the autonomic subscale and significantly higher scores on the neurophysiological subscale of the BAI. Conclusions: These differences imply similarities between the cognitive components of DPD and anxiety disorders while physiological experiences diverge. The findings encourage future research looking at direct physiological measures and longitudinal designs to confirm the mechanisms underlying different clinical manifestations of anxiety.

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