Can levels of a general anxiety-prone cognitive style distinguish between various anxiety disorders?

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Journal Article
Comprehensive Psychiatry, 2012, 53 (5), pp. 427 - 433
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Background: The question of whether certain anxiety disorders are especially related to a cognitive style characterized by an exaggerated perception of threat and appraisal of the future as excessively unpredictable (general anxiety-prone cognitive style) remains open. Objectives: This study aimed to compare patients with generalized social anxiety disorder (SAD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder with agoraphobia (PDA), and panic disorder without agoraphobia (PD) in terms of the levels of general anxiety-prone cognitive style when the severity of general distress and psychopathology is controlled for and to ascertain whether a co-occurring depressive disorder contributes substantially to the levels of this cognitive style. Methods: The Anxious Thoughts and Tendencies Scale, a measure of a general anxiety-prone cognitive style, and Symptom Checklist 90 - Revised were administered to 204 patients with various anxiety disorders who attended an outpatient anxiety disorders clinic and were diagnosed based on a semistructured diagnostic interview. Results: Patients with principal diagnoses of SAD and GAD had a more prominent general anxiety-prone cognitive style than patients with principal diagnoses of PD and PDA when the severity of general distress and psychopathology was controlled for. The presence or absence of a co-occurring depressive disorder had no bearing on this finding. Conclusions: The general cognitive component characterizes SAD and GAD more than it does PD and PDA, and a co-occurring depressive disorder does not affect this finding. These results have implications for distinguishing between various anxiety disorders. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
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