Discomfort Intolerance: Evaluation of a Potential Risk Factor for Anxiety Psychopathology

Norman B. Schmidt, J. Anthony Richey, Kiara R. Cromer, Julia D. Buckner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Discomfort intolerance, defined as an individual difference in the capacity to tolerate unpleasant bodily sensations, is a construct recently posited as a risk factor for panic and anxiety psychopathology. The present report used a biological challenge procedure to evaluate whether discomfort intolerance predicts fearful responding beyond the effects of trait anxiety and a well-established psychological vulnerability factor (i.e., anxiety sensitivity). Nonclinical community participants (N = 44) with no history of panic attacks or any Axis I condition completed a 35% CO 2 challenge. Results are consistent with our hypothesis suggesting that discomfort intolerance incrementally predicts increased subjective reactivity to the challenge. Moreover, there was some suggestion that discomfort intolerance interacted synergistically with anxiety sensitivity to increase anxiety-related symptoms. These findings add to a small but growing literature suggesting that discomfort intolerance may play a role in the development of anxiety problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-255
Number of pages9
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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