Minor Stressors and Generalized Anxiety Disorder among Low-Income Patients Attending Primary Care Clinics

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The total number of minor life events and subjective ratings of distress associated with these events were assessed for individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and for nonanxious controls. Participants consisted of 256 randomly selected, low-income patients from primary care medical clinics. Diagnoses were obtained using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for the DSM-IV (DIS-IV). An analysis of variance revealed that GAD individuals reported significantly more minor life events than did nonanxious controls (F = 50.97, p < .001). An analysis of covariance indicated that persons with GAD perceived their minor stressors as significantly more stressful than did nonanxious controls, even after the total number of events was controlled (F = 42.07, p < .001). These findings are consistent with cognitive theories of GAD and current revisions to the definition of the disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Implications for theory and research on GAD are discussed.

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