Anxiety sensitivity's facets in relation to anxious and depressive symptoms in youth

Kristin Nichols-Lopez, Florida International University


Anxiety sensitivity is a multifaceted cognitive risk factor currently being examined in relation to anxiety and depression. The paucity of research on the relative contribution of the facets of anxiety sensitivity to anxiety and depression, coupled with variations in existing findings, indicate that the relations remain inadequately understood. In the present study, the relations between the facets of anxiety sensitivity, anxiety, and depression were examined in 730 Hispanic-Latino and European-American youth referred to an anxiety specialty clinic. Youth completed the Childhood Anxiety Sensitivity Index, the Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale, and the Children’s Depression Inventory. The factor structure of the Childhood Anxiety Sensitivity Index was examined using ordered-categorical confirmatory factor analytic techniques. Goodness-of-fit criteria indicated that a two-factor model fit the data best. The identified facets of anxiety sensitivity included Physical/Mental Concerns and Social Concerns. Support was also found for cross-ethnic equivalence of the two-factor model across Hispanic-Latino and European-American youth. Structural equation modeling was used to examine models involving anxiety sensitivity, anxiety, and depression. Results indicated that an overall measure of anxiety sensitivity was positively associated with both anxiety and depression, while the facets of anxiety sensitivity showed differential relations to anxiety and depression symptoms. Both facets of anxiety sensitivity were related to overall anxiety and its symptom dimensions, with the exception being that Social Concerns was not related to physiological anxiety symptoms. Physical/Mental Concerns were strongly associated with overall depression and with all depression symptom dimensions. Social Concerns was not significantly associated with depression or its symptom dimensions. These findings highlight that anxiety sensitivity’s relations to youth psychiatric symptoms are complex. Results suggest that focusing on anxiety sensitivity’s facets is important to fully understand its role in psychopathology. Clinicians may want to target all facets of anxiety sensitivity when treating anxious youth. However, in the context of depression, it might be sufficient for clinicians to target Physical/Mental Incapacitation Concerns.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Nichols-Lopez, Kristin, "Anxiety sensitivity's facets in relation to anxious and depressive symptoms in youth" (2010). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3431304.