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Behav Res Ther. 2004 Dec;42(12):1469-82.

Experience and appraisal of worry among high worriers with and without generalized anxiety disorder.

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Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, 429 Bruce V. Moore Building, University Park, PA 16802 3104, USA.


Recent research has revealed that a large number of highly worried individuals do not qualify for a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This raises the intriguing question of why some high worriers are more impaired and distressed by their worrying than others, particularly when the severity of their worry is the same. The present investigation sought to address this question by examining whether GAD and non-GAD high worriers differ in their actual worry experiences, their subjective appraisals of worry experiences, or both experiences and appraisals of worry. GAD and non-GAD worriers, selected for matching levels of trait worry severity, completed an attention-focus task with thought sampling before and after a brief worry induction. They also completed questionnaires assessing their experiences during and after the worry induction, as well as their general beliefs about worry. GAD worriers experienced less control over negative intrusive thoughts immediately after worrying, reported greater somatic hyperarousal following worry, and endorsed several negative beliefs about worry more strongly than their worry-matched controls. Results suggest that GAD is associated with unique experiences and appraisals that distinguish it from other forms of severe worry.

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