Delineating generalized anxiety: A preliminary investigation

  • Peter R. Gross
  • Georg H. Eifert


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 


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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

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