Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Overanxious disorder: An examination of developmental differences

  • 109 Accesses

  • 72 Citations


Differences between a clinical sample of younger (ages 5 to 11) and older (ages 12 to 19) children meeting DSM-III criteria for overanxious disorder (OAD) were examined. Younger and older children were compared in terms of (1) the rates of OAD diagnoses occurring in the two age groups, (2) sociodemographic characteristics, (3) symptom expression, (4) association with other forms of maladjustment, and (5) self-reported anxiety and depression. The prevalence of OAD diagnoses and sociodemographic characteristics did not differ. Although younger and older OAD children showed similar rates of most specific DSM-III OAD symptoms, older children presented with a higher total number of overanxious symptoms than younger children. Older children more frequently exhibited a concurrent major depression or simple phobia, whereas younger OAD children more commonly had coexisting separation anxiety or attention deficit disorders. Older OAD children reported significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression on self-report measures. Findings indicated that the expression of OAD varies by developmental level.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1980).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Author.

  2. Barkley, R. A. (1981).Hyperactive children: A handbook for diagnosis and treatment. New York: Guilford Press.

  3. Bernstein, G. A., & Garfinkel, B. D. (1986). School phobia: The overlap of affective and anxiety disorders.Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 2, 235–241.

  4. Francis, G., Last, C. G., & Strauss, C. C. (1987). Expression of separation anxiety disorder: The roles of age and gender.Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 18, 82–89.

  5. Graziano, A., DeGiovanni, I. S., & Garcia, K. (1979). Behavioral treatment of children's fears: A review.Psychological Bulletin, 86, 804–830.

  6. Hartmann, D. (1977). Considerations in the choice of interobserver reliability estimates.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 10, 103–116.

  7. Hollingshead, A. B. (1975).Four-factor index of social status. Unpublished manuscript.

  8. Jersild, A. T., & Holmes, F. B. (1935). Methods of overcoming children's fears.Journal of Psychology, 1, 75–104.

  9. Kolvin, I., Berney, P., & Bhate, S. R. (1984). Classification and diagnosis of depression in school phobia.British Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 347–357.

  10. Kovacs, M. (1983a).The interview schedule for children (ISC): Interrater and parent-child agreement. Unpublished manuscript, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

  11. Kovacs, M. (1983b).The Children's Depression Inventory: A self-rated depression scale for schoolaged youngsters. Unpublished manuscript, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

  12. Kovacs, M., & Beck, A. T. (1977). An empirical-clinical approach toward a definition of childhood depression. In J. G. Schulterbrandt & A. Raskin (Eds.),Depression in childhood: Diagnosis, treatment, and conceptual models (pp. 1–25). New York: Raven Press.

  13. Lahey, B. B., Schaughency, E. A., Strauss, C. C., & Frame, C. L. (1984). Are attention deficit disorders with and without hyperactivity similar or dissimilar disorders?Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 23, 302–309.

  14. Lapouse, R., & Monk, M. A. (1958). An epidemiologic study of behavior characteristics in children.American Journal of Public Health, 48, 1134–1144.

  15. Last, C. G., Hersen, M., Kazdin, A. E., Finkelstein, R., & Strauss, C. C. (1987). Comparison of DSM-III separation anxiety and overanxious disorders: Demographic characteristics and patterns of comorbidity.Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 26, 527–531.

  16. MacFarlane, J. W., Allen, L., & Honzik, M. P. (1954).A developmental study of the behavior problems of normal children between twenty-one months and fourteen years. University of California Press: Berkeley.

  17. Ollendick, T. H. (1983). Reliability and validity of the Revised Fear Survey Schedule for Children (FSSC-R).Behaviour Research and Therapy, 21, 685–692.

  18. Ollendick, T. H., Matson, J. L., & Helsel, W. J. (1985). Fears in children and adolescents: Normative data.Behaviour Research and Therapy, 23, 465–467.

  19. Quay, H. C., & LaGreca, A. M. (1986). Disorders of anxiety, withdrawal, and dysphoria. In H. C. Quay & J. S. Werry (Eds.),Psychopathological disorders of childhood (3rd ed., pp. 73–110). New York: Wiley.

  20. Reynolds, C. R., & Paget, K. D. (1983). National normative and reliability data for the Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale.School Psychology Review, 12, 324–336.

  21. Reynolds, C. R., & Richmond, B. O. (1978). “What I Think and Feel”: A revised measure of children's manifest anxiety.Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 6, 241–280.

  22. Reynolds, C. R., & Richmond, B. O. (1979). Factor structure and construct validity of “What I Think and Feel”: The Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale.Journal of Personality Assessment, 43, 281–283.

  23. Scherer, M. W., & Nakamura, C. Y. (1968). A fear survey schedule for children (FSS-FC): A factor analytic comparison with manifest anxiety (CMAS).Behaviour Research and Therapy, 6, 173–182.

  24. Smucker, M. R., Craighead, W. E., Craighead, L. W., & Green, B. J. (1986). Normative and reliability data for the Children's Depression Inventory.Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 14, 25–39.

  25. Spielberger, C. (1973).Manual for the Stait-Trait Inventory for Children. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.

  26. Strauss, C. C., Frame, C. L., & Forehand, R. L. (1987). Psychosocial impairment associated with anxiety in children.Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 16, 235–239.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Strauss, C.C., Lease, C.A., Last, C.G. et al. Overanxious disorder: An examination of developmental differences. J Abnorm Child Psychol 16, 433–443 (1988).

Download citation


  • Young Child
  • Major Depression
  • Clinical Sample
  • Similar Rate
  • Attention Deficit