How does interoceptive exposure for panic disorder work? An uncontrolled case study

J Anxiety Disord. 1997 Sep-Oct;11(5):541-56. doi: 10.1016/s0887-6185(97)00030-3.


To examine the influence of interoceptive exposure (IE) when used alone in the treatment of Panic Disorder (PD), 17 PD patients were presented with six IE sessions, using 35% CO2 as the exposure medium. The data indicate that IE alone is effective in reducing panic, panic-related fears, and general anxiety. However, the positive effects of IE do not appear to extend to agoraphobia, related fears, or depressed mood. Two distinct within-session patterns of fear response to IE were noted, one indicating habituation and the other indicating a lack of fear reduction. Although both patterns were associated with reductions in panic and anxiety following IE, the Habituators appeared to have a more positive outcome, which occurred more rapidly. These data suggest that IE may operate via two different pathways. Implications for understanding fear reduction are discussed, along with directions for future study.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Agoraphobia / psychology
  • Agoraphobia / therapy
  • Carbon Dioxide / administration & dosage
  • Carbon Dioxide / pharmacology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Fear / drug effects
  • Fear / physiology
  • Female
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / drug effects
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Panic Disorder / chemically induced
  • Panic Disorder / psychology
  • Panic Disorder / therapy*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Carbon Dioxide