Do Youth with Separation Anxiety Disorder Differ in Anxiety Sensitivity From Youth with Other Anxiety Disorders?

  • Dagmar Kr. Hannesdottir
  • Sandra Bjorg Sigurjonsdottir
  • Urdur Njardvik
  • Thomas H. Ollendick
Original Article


Studies on the relationship between separation anxiety disorder (SAD) in childhood and panic disorder (PD) in adolescence and adulthood have yielded results which suggest a common underlying vulnerability for both disorders. In this study, we examined whether one such possible vulnerability—anxiety sensitivity—differed for youth diagnosed with SAD versus other anxiety disorders. Anxiety sensitivity was assessed using the Childhood Anxiety Sensitivity Index (CASI) in 315 clinic-referred youth (ages 6–17, 113 girls). 145 children (46%) were diagnosed with one or more primary anxiety disorder, including SAD (n = 22), generalized anxiety (GAD) (n = 79), social anxiety (SocA) (n = 55), and specific phobia (SP) (n = 45). Children with SAD reported higher levels of anxiety sensitivity and fears of physical symptoms than children with SP and SocA, but not children with GAD. We speculate that children who have SAD and GAD and high anxiety sensitivity may be more vulnerable to develop PD.


Anxiety sensitivity Separation anxiety disorder Panic disorder Childhood anxiety disorders 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dagmar Kr. Hannesdottir
    • 1
  • Sandra Bjorg Sigurjonsdottir
    • 1
  • Urdur Njardvik
    • 2
  • Thomas H. Ollendick
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Child Development and Behaviour for the Primary Health Care of the Capital Area (Throska- og hegdunarstod Heilsugaeslu hofudborgarsvaedisins)ReykjavikIceland
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland
  3. 3.Department of Psychology, Child Study CenterVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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