Anxiety fear 'puts above-average worriers at depression risk'

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Washington, Dec 1 (ANI): A new study by Penn State researchers has revealed that anxiety sensitivity, or the fear of feeling anxious, may put people who are already above-average worriers at risk for depression.

According to researchers, understanding how sensitivity to anxiety is a risk factor for depression may make anxiety sensitivity a potential target for treating depression in the future.

"Anxiety sensitivity has been called a fear of fear. Those with anxiety sensitivity are afraid of their anxiety because their interpretation is that something catastrophic is going to happen when their anxious sensations arise," said Andres Viana, graduate student in psychology.

Statistical analyses of questionnaire responses showed that anxiety sensitivity, after controlling for worry and generalized anxiety symptoms in above-average worriers, significantly predicted depression symptoms.

In addition, two of the four dimensions that make up anxiety sensitivity - the "fear of cognitive dyscontrol" and the "fear of publically observable anxiety symptoms" specifically predicted depression symptoms.

The third and fourth dimensions, the fear of cardiovascular symptoms and the fear of respiratory symptoms, were not significant predictors.

"We were interested in examining the relationship between anxiety sensitivity as a whole and depression," Viana said.

"In addition, we looked at the different dimensions of anxiety sensitivity to see which correlated with depression symptoms. One of the novel aspects of our study was to look at anxiety sensitivity in a sample of moderate to high worriers," Viana added.

The findings have been published in the December issue of the Journal of Anxiety Disorders. (ANI)

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