Treating disgust in anxiety disorders.

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Abstract
There is now a significant body of work which indicates that excessive disgust responses play a crucial role in the etiology and maintenance of certain anxiety disorders. In addition, emerging literature suggests that disgust may not be effectively reduced by exposure therapy. Because of this, there is a need to arm clinicians with additional therapeutic tools to target maladaptive disgust responses in patients presenting with anxiety disorders. This paper is the first review of potential strategies that may be useful in reducing disgust in the context of anxiety disorders. We first review the evidence for the role of disgust across anxiety disorders, and the research indicating that disgust is resistant to extinction and exposure. We then review and propose novel approaches, both psychological and pharmacological, that may be effective in treating dysfunctional disgust responses. Future research will be needed to determine the effectiveness of these various strategies, however this paper provides a valuable starting point from which to direct research so that ultimately, treatments for anxiety disorders can be improved by focusing on ameliorating dysfunctional and distressing emotions other than fear, such as disgust, that are prominent in certain anxiety disorders.
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Author(s)
Richardson, Rick
Mason, Elizabeth
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Publication Year
2012
Resource Type
Journal Article
Degree Type
UNSW Faculty