The Interactive Role of Anxiety Sensitivity and Pubertal Status in Predicting Anxious Responding to Bodily Sensations among Adolescents

ArticleinJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology 34(6):799-812 · January 2007with6 Reads
DOI: 10.1007/s10802-006-9079-y · Source: PubMed
The present study examined the interaction between pubertal status and anxiety sensitivity (AS) in predicting anxious and fearful responding to a three-minute voluntary hyperventilation challenge among 124 (57 females) adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 years (Mage = 15.04; SD = 1.49). As predicted, after controlling for baseline anxiety, age, and gender, there was a significant interaction between pubertal status and AS in predicting anxious responding to bodily sensations to the hyperventilation challenge. Specifically, adolescents reporting more advanced pubertal status and higher levels of AS reported the greatest post-challenge self-reported anxiety focused on bodily sensations, whereas pubertal status had relatively less of an effect on low AS adolescents. A test of specificity also was conducted; as expected, the interaction between AS and pubertal status was unrelated to generalized negative affectivity, suggesting the predictor variables interact to confer specific risk for anxious responding to bodily sensations. Finally, exploratory analyses of psychophysiological reactivity to the challenge indicated AS, but not pubertal status, moderated the relation between challenge-related change in heart-rate and post-challenge anxiety such that high AS youth who had experienced a relatively greater heart-rate change reported the most anxious reactivity to the challenge. Results are discussed in relation to theory regarding vulnerability to anxious responding to bodily sensations among adolescents.
    • "This effect was large in magnitude (r = .70) and especially noteworthy given that VH procedures typically elicit relatively low levels of fear among healthy adolescents (Leen-Feldner et al., 2006) and adults (Rapee, Brown, Antony, & Barlow, 1992). Moreover, 79% of adolescents prematurely discontinuing the VH procedure endorsed doing so specifically due to experiencing panic-relevant sensations (e.g., nausea). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective Escape and avoidance behaviors play a prominent role in the maintenance and possibly development of panic disorder, yet the literature regarding the etiology of these emotion-regulation strategies is relatively underdeveloped. The current study experimentally tests hypotheses that parental modeling of escape during a well-established, panic-relevant, biological challenge increases panic-relevant escape and avoidance among offspring. Method Fifty physically and psychologically healthy early adolescents (28 females; Mage = 11.58; 86% Caucasian) stratified by gender, were randomly assigned to observe one of their parents (39 females; Mage = 40.04) either: a) model completing a 3-min voluntary hyperventilation exercise (no escape modeling group); or b) model premature termination of a similar procedure (escape modeling group). Results Offspring in the escape modeling group demonstrated a stronger escape response by discontinuing their own challenge sooner than those in the no escape modeling group (r = .70). No group differences emerged in terms of avoidance responding, as indexed by nearly identical responding in terms of delay time before initiating the challenge, respiration rate, and self-reported willingness to engage in a second proposed challenge. Conclusions Results suggest that parental behaviors may play an important role in the development of some forms of panic-relevant responding. These preliminary findings may have important implications for future prevention programs targeting parents and at-risk youth.
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    • "The findings among boys are more mixed, although Ge and colleagues provide some evidence of a similar trend as that observed for girls. Finally, there is evidence that social (Goodyer et al., 1989), somatically-oriented (McCabe et al., 2001), panic-relevant (Leen-Feldner et al., 2006), and biological (Twitchell et al., 2000) factors influence the association between pubertal status and anxiety among youth. Collectively, these findings support the idea that puberty may mark an important window of vulnerability to anxiety and related problems, and that this " sensitive period " may be particularly problematic for youth at risk for psychopathology by virtue of specific individual-difference or contextual characteristics. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The current paper critically reviews the empirical literature focused on the association between puberty and anxiety. A detailed review of more than 45 empirical articles is provided. There is some evidence that among girls, but not boys, a more advanced pubertal status (controlling for age) is associated with higher reported anxiety symptoms. Also among girls, earlier pubertal timing is linked to higher anxiety scores. It is unclear whether early puberty may lead to increased anxiety or if high anxiety influences pubertal timing. With respect to hormones, there were relatively few significant associations for girls, although this literature is very small. Among boys, several studies reported positive associations between both gonadal and adrenal hormones and anxiety. The direction of effect for these finding is also unstudied. The primary limitation of the hormone-anxiety literature pertains to the absence of pubertal measures in samples of youth in which hormones are measured. The paper concludes with a comprehensive examination of the methodological strengths and weaknesses of the literature and recommendations for future work.
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  • Chapter · Jan 2008 · Clinical psychology review
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