The role of values-consistent behavior in generalized anxiety disorder

Suffolk University, Boston, MA, USA.
Depression and Anxiety (Impact Factor: 4.41). 05/2011; 28(5):358-66. DOI: 10.1002/da.20793
Source: PubMed


Theory and research suggest that generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is associated with diminished quality of life and restriction in valued action. The purpose of this study was to examine the relevance of values-consistent behavior (valued action) in understanding the impairment in quality of life in GAD.
Treatment-seeking clients with a principal diagnosis of GAD (n = 30) were compared with demographically matched nonanxious controls (n = 30) using self-report measures.
Participants with GAD reported significantly less valued action compared with controls, and within the GAD group, diminished valued action was not fully explained by depression comorbidity. Valued action was significantly correlated with measures of experiential avoidance, distress about emotions, and quality of life. Further, consistent with a theoretical model of GAD, restrictions in valued action contributed unique variance to diminished quality of life over and above the contributions of gender, GAD severity, experiential avoidance, distress about emotions, and depression comorbidity. Finally, an acceptance-based behavioral therapy significantly improved self-reports of valued action for GAD clients with 40% achieving clinically significant change in this domain.
The findings provide preliminary support for the relevance of valued action in understanding the functional impairment associated with GAD, and the beneficial effects of an acceptance-based behavior therapy in increasing valued action.

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    • "Individuals with GAD show deficits in detecting and regulating emotional states, which may accelerate a positive feedback circuit between general stress symptoms and pathological worrying [10-12]. Finally, experiential avoidance may lead to a restriction in proactive behaviours as individuals become focused on avoiding events and situations rather than pursuing activities that are consistent with their personal values [13,14], which may be related to the hypersensitivity of the Behavioural Inhibition System seen in individuals with GAD [15]. "
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