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The latent structure of anxiety symptoms in anxiety disorders
Am J Psychiatry 1992;149:1058-1061.
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Research in the psychopathology of panic and anxiety disorders, particularly agoraphobia, suggests that fear of fear may be the basis of these conditions. However, there is little empirical research on the definition and validity of the concept of fear of fear in a clinical study group. The authors' aims are 1) to determine empirically if particular associations between symptoms and beliefs exist in a group of patients with anxiety disorders and what underlying dimensions of perceived threat they represent and 2) to assess the relative importance of these associations in agoraphobia with panic attacks, panic disorder, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. METHOD: In an anxiety disorders treatment unit, 390 outpatients with anxiety disorders diagnosed according to DSM-III criteria completed the Anxiety Symptoms and Beliefs Scale. RESULTS: A principal components analysis of the patients' ratings on the Anxiety Symptoms and Beliefs Scale produced a four-factor solution in which specific sets of anxiety symptoms loaded with specific beliefs. These four factors were interpreted as respiratory symptoms, vestibular symptoms, autonomic arousal, and psychological threat. Respiratory and vestibular symptoms were more associated with panic disorder diagnoses than with social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder diagnoses. CONCLUSIONS: These findings support a conception of fear of fear in anxiety disorders as fearful beliefs concerning the experience of anxiety symptoms. Associations between symptoms and fear of fear are present across anxiety disorders but are most pronounced in agoraphobia with panic attacks.

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