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01-05-2012 | Uitgave 4/2012

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 4/2012

Understanding the Latent Structure of the Emotional Disorders in Children and Adolescents

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 4/2012
Sarah E. Trosper, Sarah W. Whitton, Timothy A. Brown, Donna B. Pincus


Investigators are persistently aiming to clarify structural relationships among the emotional disorders in efforts to improve diagnostic classification. The high co-occurrence of anxiety and mood disorders, however, has led investigators to portray the current structure of anxiety and depression in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV, APA 2000) as more descriptive than empirical. This study assesses various structural models in a clinical sample of youths with emotional disorders. Three a priori factor models were tested, and the model that provided the best fit to the data showed the dimensions of anxiety and mood disorders to be hierarchically organized within a single, higher-order factor. This supports the prevailing view that the co-occurrence of anxiety and mood disorders in children is in part due to a common vulnerability (e.g., negative affectivity). Depression and generalized anxiety loaded more highly onto the higher-order factor than the other disorders, a possible explanation for the particularly high rates of comorbidity between the two. Implications for the taxonomy and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders for children and adolescents are discussed.

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