Anxiety sensitivity, its stability and longitudinal association with severity of anxiety symptoms

Johanna H. M. Hovenkamp-Hermelink, Date C. van der Veen, Richard C. Oude Voshaar, Neeltje M. Batelaan, Brenda W. J. H. Penninx, Bertus F. Jeronimus, Robert A. Schoevers, Harriëtte Riese

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Anxiety sensitivity is associated with the onset of panic attacks, anxiety, and other common mental disorders. Anxiety sensitivity is usually seen as a relative stable trait. However, previous studies were inconclusive regarding the longitudinal stability of anxiety sensitivity and differed in study designs and outcomes. The current study examines the stability of anxiety sensitivity over time and its longitudinal associations with severity of anxiety symptoms. Participants from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety with and without an anxiety, depressive, or comorbid anxiety-depressive disorder diagnosis were included (N = 2052). Stability in anxiety sensitivity over two year follow-up and the longitudinal association between the change in anxiety sensitivity and change in severity of anxiety symptoms were tested. Results indicated that two-year stability of anxiety sensitivity was high (r = 0.72), yet this test-retest estimate leaves room for changes in anxiety sensitivity in some individuals as well. Change in anxiety sensitivity was positively associated with change in severity of anxiety symptoms (B = 0.64 in univariable analysis and B = 0.52 in multivariable analysis). The longitudinal association of anxiety sensitivity with severity of anxiety symptoms indicates that targeting anxiety sensitivity may be of additional benefit in clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4314
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

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