Delineating generalized anxiety: A preliminary investigation

  • Peter R. Gross
  • Georg H. Eifert
Article

Abstract

The present study examined the nature of generalized anxiety, which was defined as the constellation of symptoms listed as diagnostic criteria for generalized anxiety disorder in DSM-III-R. Generalized anxiety was assessed by means of a questionnaire that was especially constructed for this study. Although multidimensional scaling of symptoms reported by a clinically anxious sample produced orthogonal anxiety and panic dimensions, many symptoms were common to both dimensions. Whereas worry was found to be the cardinal feature of generalized anxiety, respiratory symptoms were found to associate closely with panic. These dimensions were replicated in a student sample. It is argued that while generalized anxiety symptoms constitute a unique dimension in the field of anxiety disorders, both panic and generalized anxiety may be linked with a basic anxiety response system. The findings also indicated that worry associated more closely with generalized anxiety than did apprehensive expectations. The heuristic value of the findings are discussed in light of the issue relating to an anxiety-panic continuum.

Key words

generalized anxiety panic anxiety dimensions worry 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Anderson, D. J., Noyes, R. N., Jr., & Crowe, R. R. (1984). A comparison of panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.American Journal of Psychiatry, 141, 572–575.Google Scholar
  2. Barlow, D. H. (1985). The dimensions of the anxiety disorders. In A. H. Tuma & J. D. Maser (Eds.),Anxiety and the Anxiety Disorders (pp. 479–500). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  3. Barlow, D. H. (1988).Anxiety and its disorders. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  4. Barlow, D. H., & Maser, J. D. (1984). Psychopathology in anxiety disorders.Journal of Behavioural Assessment, 6, 331–347.Google Scholar
  5. Barlow, D. J., Cohen, A. S., Waddell, M. T., Vermilyea, J. A., Klosko, J. S., Blanchard, E. B., & Di Nardo, P. A. (1984). Panic and generalized anxiety disorders: Nature and treatment.Behaviour Therapy, 15, 431–449.Google Scholar
  6. Barlow, D. H., Vermilyea, J., Blanchard, E. B., Vermilyea, B. B., Di Nardo, P. A., & Cerny, J. A. (1985). The phenomenon of panic.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 94, 320–328.Google Scholar
  7. Barlow, D. H., Blanchard, E. B., Vermilyea, J. A., Vermilyea, B. B., & Di Nardo, P. A. (1986). Generalized anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder: Description and reconceptualization.American Journal of Psychiatry, 143, 40–44.Google Scholar
  8. Borden, J. W., & Turner, S. M. (1989). Is panic a unique emotional experience.Behaviour Research and Therapy, 27, 263–268.Google Scholar
  9. Borkovec, T. D., & Hu, S. (1990). The effect of worry on cardiovascular response to phobic imagery.Behaviour Research and Therapy, 28, 69–73.Google Scholar
  10. Borkovec, T. D., & Inz, J. (1990). The nature of worry in generalized anxiety disorder: A predominance of thought activity.Behaviour Research and Therapy, 28, 153–158.Google Scholar
  11. Borkovec, T. D., Robinson, E., Pruzinsky, T., & DePree, J. (1983). Preliminary exploration of worry: Some characteristics and processes.Behaviour Research and Therapy, 21, 9–16.Google Scholar
  12. Breier, A., Charney, D. S., & Heninger, G. R. (1985). The diagnostic validity of anxiety disorders and their relationship to depressive illness.The American Journal of Psychiatry, 142, 787–797.Google Scholar
  13. Breslau, N., & Davis, G. C. (1985). Further evidence on the doubtful validity of generalized anxiety disorder.Psychiatry Research, 16, 177.Google Scholar
  14. Butler, G., & Mathews, A. (1987). Anticipatory anxiety and risk perception.Cognitive Therapy and Research, 11, 551–565.Google Scholar
  15. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1986). Functional and dysfunctional responses to anxiety: The interaction between expectancies and self-focused attention. In R. Schwarzer (Ed.),Self-related cognitions in anxiety and motivation (pp. 111–141). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  16. Coleman, J. C., Butcher, J. N., & Carson, R. C. (1980).Abnormal psychology and modem life. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman.Google Scholar
  17. Costello, C. G., Devins, G. M., & Ward, K. W. (1988). The prevalence of fears, phobias and anxiety disorders and their relationship with depression in women attending family physicians.Behaviour Research and Therapy, 26, 311–320.Google Scholar
  18. Craske, M. G., Rapee, R., Jackel, L., & Barlow, D. H. (1989). Qualitative dimensions of worry in DSM-III-R generalized anxiety disorder subjects and nonanxious controls.Behaviour Research and Therapy, 27, 397–402.Google Scholar
  19. Di Nardo, P. A., Barlow, D. H., Cerny, J. A., Vermilyea, B. B., Vermilyea, J. A., Himadi, W. G., & Waddell, M. T. (1985).Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule-Revised. Albany: State University of New York.Google Scholar
  20. Eifert, G. H. (1987). Language conditioning: Clinical issues and applications in behavior therapy. In H. J. Eysenck & I. M. Martin (Eds.)Theoretical foundations of behavior therapy (pp. 167–193). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  21. Eifert, G. H., & Evans, I. M. (Eds.) (1990).Unifying behavior therapy: Contributions of paradigmatic behaviorism. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  22. Goldstein, A. J., & Chambless, D. L. (1978). A reanalysis of agoraphobia.Behaviour Therapy, 9, 47–59.Google Scholar
  23. Gross, P. R. (1989). Multimodal therapy for generalized and social anxieties.Behavioural Psychotherapy, 17, 316–322.Google Scholar
  24. Gross, P. R., & Eifert, G. H. (1990). Components of generalized anxiety (I): The role of intrusive thoughts vs. worry.Behaviour Research and Therapy, 28, 421–428.Google Scholar
  25. Gross, P. R., Oei, T. P., & Evans, L. (1989). Generalized anxiety symptoms in phobic disorders and anxiety states: A test of the worry hypothesis.Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 3, 159–169.Google Scholar
  26. Gross, P. R., & Staats, A. W. (1990).An attention-preoccupation model of generalized anxiety disorder (manuscript in preparation).Google Scholar
  27. Hamilton, M. (1959). The assessment of anxiety states by rating.British Journal of Medical Psychology, 32, 50–55.Google Scholar
  28. Hoehn-Saric, R. (1982). Comparison of generalized anxiety disorder with panic disorder patients.Psychophamacology Bulletin, 18, 104–108.Google Scholar
  29. Lehrer, P. M., & Woolfolk, R. L. (1982). Self-report assessment of anxiety: Somatic, cognitive and behavioural modalities.Behavioural Assessment, 4, 167–177.Google Scholar
  30. Norton, G. R., Dorward, J., & Cox, B. J. (1986). Factors associated with panic attacks in non-clinical subjects.Behaviour Therapy, 17, 239–252.Google Scholar
  31. Oei, T., Gross, P. R., & Evans, L. (1989). Phobic disorders and anxiety states: How do they differ.Australia and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 23, 81–88.Google Scholar
  32. Rapee, R. M. (1985). Distinctions between panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder: Clinical presentation.Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 19, 227–232.Google Scholar
  33. Rapee, R. (1986). Differential response to hyperventilation in panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 95, 1–5.Google Scholar
  34. Reich, J., Noyes, R., & Yates, W. (1988). Anxiety symptoms distinguishing social phobia from panic and generalized anxiety disorders.The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 176, 510–513.Google Scholar
  35. Spitzer, R. L., & Williams, J. B. W. (1985). Proposed revisions in the DSM-III classification of anxiety disorders based on research and clinical experience. In A. H. Tuma & J. D. Maser (Eds.),Anxiety and the anxiety disorders (pp. 759–773). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  36. Staats, A. W. (1975).Social behaviourism. London: Irvin-Dorsey Press.Google Scholar
  37. Takane, Y., Young, F., & Lewyckyj, R. (1974).Alternating least squares scaling (computer program). University of North Carolina.Google Scholar
  38. Turner, S. M., Williams, S. L., Beidel, D. C., & Mezzich, J. E. (1986). Panic disorder and agoraphobia: Covariation along the dimensions of panic and agoraphobic fear.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 95, 384–388.Google Scholar
  39. Tyrer, P. (1984). Classification of anxiety.British Journal of Psychiatry, 144, 78–83.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter R. Gross
    • 1
  • Georg H. Eifert
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of PsychologyJames Cook Uuiversity of North QueenslandCairnsAustralia

Personalised recommendations