Characteristics of worry in Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Springer Science and Business Media LLC -- Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
DOI 10.1016/j.jbtep.2013.03.004
  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  2. Panic Disorder
  3. Worry
  4. Attentional control
  5. Metacognitive beliefs

Background & objectives

Groups of clients and community volunteers with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and clients with Panic Disorder were compared to a group with elevated worry but without GAD on a range of measures, to identify individual differences beyond a high propensity to worry.


Participants completed standardised questionnaires and a behavioural worry task that assesses frequency and severity of negative thought intrusions.


Relative to high worriers, clients with GAD had higher scores on trait anxiety, depression, more negative beliefs about worry, a greater range of worry topics, and more frequent and severe negative thought intrusions. Relative to community volunteers with GAD, clients in treatment reported poorer attentional control. Compared to clients with Panic Disorder, clients with GAD had higher trait anxiety, propensity to worry, negative beliefs and a wider range of worry content.


Results confirmed expectations of group differences based on GAD diagnostic criteria, but also revealed other differences in mood, characteristics of worry, and perceived attentional control that may play a role in the decision to seek treatment.