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Gender differences in psychophysiological responses to speech stress among older social phobics:: congruence and incongruence between self-evaluative and cardiovascular reactions
Psychosomatic medicine
Short Title: Psychosom.Med.
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: Nov 30, 2000
Pages: 765 - 777
Sources ID: 44916
Notes: LR: 20101118; JID: 0376505; 2001/09/27 10:00 [pubmed]; 2001/10/26 10:01 [medline]; 2001/09/27 10:00 [entrez]; ppublish
Visibility: Private
Abstract: (Show)
OBJECTIVE: Evidence suggests increased cardiovascular risk and autonomic impairment among individuals with chronic anxiety. Little attention, however, has been paid to the anxiety disorder of social phobia despite its high prevalence. Additionally, gender- and age-related cardiovascular profiles have not been examined in relation to social phobia. This study investigated cardiovascular responses to a socially threatening situation among older men and women with social phobia and control subjects. METHODS: Thirty subjects with social phobia and 30 control subjects (mean age = 65 years) were assessed during baseline, paced breathing, speech preparation, and speech presentation. Electrocardiographic variables, blood pressure, respiration, and emotional state (self-reported) were monitored. Hemodynamic variables included heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac output, and systemic vascular resistance; autonomic measures were respiratory sinus arrhythmia and baroreflex sensitivity, both markers of cardiac vagal control, and 0.10-Hz systolic blood pressure variability, an index of sympathetic vasomotor tone. RESULTS: Subjects with social phobia, in contrast to nonanxious control subjects, manifested more anxiety, embarrassment, and somatic complaints in response to stress; however, physiological measures generally did not distinguish groups. Interaction effects indicated that socially phobic women were hyperresponsive to the stressor with respect to self-reported, hemodynamic, and autonomic parameters. Socially phobic men manifested no physiological differences in comparison with control subjects, but they reported more psychological and somatic complaints. CONCLUSIONS: Gender differences in subjective and physiological responses to a socially threatening situation indicate congruence between perceived social anxiety and physiological responses in older women but not men. We found no evidence of impaired cardiovascular autonomic regulation among socially phobic men despite other reports that phobically anxious men are at greater cardiovascular risk.