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26-11-2016 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 4/2017

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 4/2017

Gender Differences in Anxiety Trajectories from Middle to Late Adolescence

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 4/2017
Auteurs:
Christine McCauley Ohannessian, Stephanie Milan, Anna Vannucci

Abstract

Although developmental trajectories of anxiety symptomatology have begun to be explored, most research has focused on total anxiety symptom scores during childhood and early adolescence, using racially/ethnically homogenous samples. Understanding the heterogeneous courses of anxiety disorder symptoms during middle to late adolescence has the potential to clarify developmental risk models of anxiety and to inform prevention programs. Therefore, this study specifically examined gender differences in developmental trajectories of anxiety disorder symptoms (generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder) from middle to late adolescence in a diverse community sample (N = 1000; 57 % female; 65 % White), assessed annually over 2 years. Latent growth curve modeling revealed that girls exhibited a slight linear decrease in generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder symptoms, whereas boys exhibited a stable course. These models suggested that one trajectory was appropriate for panic disorder symptoms in both girls and boys. Growth mixture models indicated the presence of four latent generalized anxiety disorder symptom trajectory classes: low increasing, moderate decreasing slightly, high decreasing, and very high decreasing rapidly. Growth mixture models also suggested the presence of five latent social anxiety disorder symptom trajectory classes: a low stable trajectory class and four classes that were qualitatively similar to the latent generalized anxiety disorder trajectories. For both generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder symptoms, girls were significantly more likely than boys to be in trajectory classes characterized by moderate or high initial symptoms that subsequently decreased over time. These findings provide novel information regarding the developmental course of anxiety disorder symptoms in adolescents.

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