Anxiety, the most common and impairing psychological problem experienced by youth, is associated with numerous individual and environmental factors. Two such factors include childhood emotional abuse (CEA) and low distress tolerance (DT). The current study aimed to understand how CEA and low DT impacted anxiety symptoms measured annually across 5 years among a community sample of youth. We hypothesized DT would moderate the relationship between CEA and anxiety, such that youth with higher levels of CEA and lower levels of DT would have elevated anxiety over time. Community youth (N = 244) were annually assessed across 5 years using the Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale, Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, and Behavioral Indicator of Resiliency to Distress. Higher CEA at baseline was associated with higher anxiety at baseline, higher anxiety at each annual assessment, and with greater overall decreases in anxiety over time. Lower DT was associated with higher anxiety at baseline, but did not predict changes in anxiety over time. Baseline DT significantly moderated the relationship between baseline CEA and anxiety, such that youth with both higher CEA and lower DT had the highest anxiety at each annual assessment. Youth with lower DT and higher CEA scores had the highest level of anxiety symptoms across time.
Prevention Science – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 8, 2016
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