Anxiety sensitivity and its unique relationship with panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and depression

Lewis, Karen M. (2011) Anxiety sensitivity and its unique relationship with panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and depression. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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There has been significant interest in the unique relationship that anxiety sensitivity (AS) holds with the anxiety disorders and depression. Anxiety sensitivity is the fear of arousal-related bodily sensations due to the personal belief that these symptoms will produce harmful consequences such as the loss of cognitive control, negative physical symptoms, and the fear of publicly observable symptoms (Reiss, 1991). Current research has examined the relationship between AS and anxiety disorders and depression and has found that high leveIs of AS are associated with the development of panic disorders, social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression (Maller & Reiss, 1992; Olatunji & Woitzky-Taylor, 2009; Taylor, Koch, Woody, & McLean, 1996); however, limited research has examined the three facets of AS and how they relate to specific anxiety disorders and depression. The present study examined three specific anxiety symptom clusters (panic, generalized anxiety, and social anxiety) and depressive symptoms and their relationship with the three facets of AS (fear of physical symptoms, social concerns, and fear of cognitive dyscontrol). It was found that the fear of physical symptoms component of AS was correlated with panic, as was hypothesized, but also correlated with social anxiety symptoms and generalized anxiety symptoms. Consistent with hypotheses, fear of publicly observable symptoms, or the social concerns component of AS, was correlated with only one cluster of symptoms, social anxiety. Lastly, fear of cognitive dyscontrol was unexpectedly found to correlate with panic and symptoms of social anxiety; however, it did not correlate with generalized anxiety or depressive symptoms as predicted in the hypothesis. These results, although preliminary, suggest a degree of specificity with respect to how the various components of AS correlate with specific anxiety and mood symptoms. Future work in this area might be useful in preventative efforts to address aspects of AS that serve as specific risk factors for these disorders.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 10879
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 45-57).
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 2011
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Anxiety sensitivity--Risk factors; Anxiety sensitivity--Psychological aspects; Anxiety disorders--Risk factors; Panic disorders--Risk factors; Social phobia--Risk factors; Depression, Mental--Risk factors.

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