Cognitive content-specificity in anxiety and depression: a twin study of associations with anxiety sensitivity dimensions across development.

Brown, H. M.; Waszczuk, M.A.; Zavos, Helena M. S.; Trzaskowski, M.; Gregory, Alice M. and Eley, Thalia C.. 2014. Cognitive content-specificity in anxiety and depression: a twin study of associations with anxiety sensitivity dimensions across development. Psychological Medicine, ISSN 0033-2917 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Background The classification of anxiety and depressive disorders has long been debated and has important clinical implications. The present study combined a genetically sensitive design and multiple time points to investigate cognitive content specificity in anxiety and depressive disorder symptoms across anxiety sensitivity dimensions, a cognitive distortion implicated in both disorders.

Method Phenotypic and genetic correlations between anxiety sensitivity dimensions, anxiety and depressive disorder symptoms were examined at five waves of data collection within childhood, adolescence and early adulthood in two representative twin studies (n pairs = 300 and 1372).

Results The physical concerns dimension of anxiety sensitivity (fear of bodily symptoms) was significantly associated with anxiety but not depression at all waves. Genetic influences on physical concerns overlapped substantially more with anxiety than depression. Conversely, mental concerns (worry regarding cognitive control) were phenotypically more strongly associated with depression than anxiety. Social concerns (fear of publicly observable symptoms of anxiety) were associated with both anxiety and depression in adolescence. Genetic influences on mental and social concerns were shared to a similar extent with both anxiety and depression.

Conclusions Phenotypic patterns of cognitive specificity and broader genetic associations between anxiety sensitivity dimensions, anxiety and depressive disorder symptoms were similar at all waves. Both disorder-specific and shared cognitive concerns were identified, suggesting it is appropriate to classify anxiety and depression as distinct but related disorders and confirming the clinical perspective that cognitive therapy is most likely to benefit by targeting cognitive concerns relating specifically to the individual's presenting symptoms across development.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291714000828

Keywords:

Anxiety; anxiety sensitivity dimensions; cognitive specificity; depression; development; genetics; twins

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology

Dates:

DateEvent
16 April 2014Published

Item ID:

7354

Date Deposited:

23 Jul 2014 16:11

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:00

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/7354

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