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Behav Res Ther. 2007 Aug;45(8):1967-75. Epub 2006 Nov 3.

Anxiety sensitivity within the anxiety disorders: disorder-specific sensitivities and depression comorbidity.

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Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada, Mood and Anxiety Program, University of Toronto, Clarke Site, Toronto, ONT, Canada.


The tendency to perceive anxious states as aversive and harmful is hypothesized to confer vulnerability to the development of anxiety disorders. The most commonly used measure of anxiety sensitivity, the Anxiety Sensitivity Index [ASI; Reiss, S., Peterson, R.A., Gursky, D.M., & McNally R.J. (1986). Anxiety sensitivity, anxiety frequency, and the prediction of fearfulness. Behavior Research and Therapy, 24, 1-8], is composed of multiple lower-order factors, assessing fear of physical symptoms, fear of publicly observable anxious symptoms, and fear of cognitive dyscontrol. This study examined the convergent validity of the lower-order anxiety sensitivity dimensions in DSM-IV diagnosed anxiety disorders. Participants with primary diagnoses of panic disorder with agoraphobia, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) completed the ASI and measures of anxiety and depression severity. Support was found for the convergent validity of all ASI dimensions in reference to thematically related anxiety disorders and in the identification of patients presenting with and without secondary major depressive disorder (MDD). The ASI-fear of cognitive dyscontrol dimension displayed strong and nonredundant associations with GAD, dimensional depression scores, and secondary diagnoses of MDD. The conceptual implications of the shared importance of fear of cognitive dyscontrol in GAD and MDD are discussed.

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