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Biased attention to threat in paediatric anxiety disorders (generalised anxiety disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, separation anxiety disorder) as a function of 'distress' versus 'fear' diagnostic categorisation

Biased attention to threat in paediatric anxiety disorders (generalised anxiety disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, separation anxiety disorder) as a function of 'distress' versus 'fear' diagnostic categorisation
Biased attention to threat in paediatric anxiety disorders (generalised anxiety disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, separation anxiety disorder) as a function of 'distress' versus 'fear' diagnostic categorisation
Background: Structural models of emotional disorders propose that anxiety disorders can be classified into fear and distress disorders. Sources of evidence for this distinction come from genetic, self-report and neurophysiological data from adults. The present study examined whether this distinction relates to cognitive processes, indexed by attention bias towards threat, which is thought to cause and maintain anxiety disorders.

Method: Diagnostic and attention bias data were analysed from 435 children between 5 and 13 years of age; 158 had principal fear disorder (specific phobia, social phobia or separation anxiety disorder), 75 had principal distress disorder (generalized anxiety disorder, GAD) and 202 had no psychiatric disorder. Anxious children were a clinic-based treatment-seeking sample. Attention bias was assessed on a visual-probe task with angry, neutral and happy faces.

Results: Compared to healthy controls, children with principal distress disorder (GAD) showed a significant bias towards threat relative to neutral faces whereas children with principal fear disorder showed an attention bias away from threat relative to neutral faces. Overall, children displayed an attention bias towards happy faces, irrespective of diagnostic group.

Conclusions: Our findings support the distinction between fear and distress disorders, and extend empirically derived structural models of emotional disorders to threat processing in childhood, when many anxiety disorders begin and predict lifetime impairment.
anxierty disorders, attention bias, children, distress disorders, fear disorders
0033-2917
607-616
Waters, A.M.
87092f14-7f87-4ae0-adc3-15f63fb50b7b
Bradley, B.P.
bdacaa6c-528b-4086-9448-27ebfe463514
Mogg, K.
5f1474af-85f5-4fd3-8eb6-0371be848e30
Waters, A.M.
87092f14-7f87-4ae0-adc3-15f63fb50b7b
Bradley, B.P.
bdacaa6c-528b-4086-9448-27ebfe463514
Mogg, K.
5f1474af-85f5-4fd3-8eb6-0371be848e30

Waters, A.M., Bradley, B.P. and Mogg, K. (2014) Biased attention to threat in paediatric anxiety disorders (generalised anxiety disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, separation anxiety disorder) as a function of 'distress' versus 'fear' diagnostic categorisation. Psychological Medicine, 44 (3), 607-616. (doi:10.1017/S0033291713000779). (PMID:23591000)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background: Structural models of emotional disorders propose that anxiety disorders can be classified into fear and distress disorders. Sources of evidence for this distinction come from genetic, self-report and neurophysiological data from adults. The present study examined whether this distinction relates to cognitive processes, indexed by attention bias towards threat, which is thought to cause and maintain anxiety disorders.

Method: Diagnostic and attention bias data were analysed from 435 children between 5 and 13 years of age; 158 had principal fear disorder (specific phobia, social phobia or separation anxiety disorder), 75 had principal distress disorder (generalized anxiety disorder, GAD) and 202 had no psychiatric disorder. Anxious children were a clinic-based treatment-seeking sample. Attention bias was assessed on a visual-probe task with angry, neutral and happy faces.

Results: Compared to healthy controls, children with principal distress disorder (GAD) showed a significant bias towards threat relative to neutral faces whereas children with principal fear disorder showed an attention bias away from threat relative to neutral faces. Overall, children displayed an attention bias towards happy faces, irrespective of diagnostic group.

Conclusions: Our findings support the distinction between fear and distress disorders, and extend empirically derived structural models of emotional disorders to threat processing in childhood, when many anxiety disorders begin and predict lifetime impairment.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 8 March 2013
e-pub ahead of print date: 17 April 2013
Published date: February 2014
Keywords: anxierty disorders, attention bias, children, distress disorders, fear disorders
Organisations: Clinical Neuroscience

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 349835
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/349835
ISSN: 0033-2917
PURE UUID: 239a7f5e-5734-4173-bfce-0de962281a39
ORCID for B.P. Bradley: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2801-4271

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 12 Mar 2013 12:16
Last modified: 20 Jul 2019 01:06

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