“Unveiling the Shocking Link Between Anxiety and Dissociation in Adolescence: New Research Reveals Surprising Psychological Mechanisms!”

# New Study Reveals Link Between Anxiety and Dissociation in Adolescents

A recent study published in Psychiatry Research has shed light on the psychological mechanisms that connect anxious tendencies and dissociative symptoms among adolescents. The study found that cognitive appraisals of dissociation and perseverative thinking play a key role in this relationship.

## The Link Between Anxiety and Dissociation

Anxiety disorders are common in adolescents, with prevalence rates of 7.9% in the United Kingdom. Previous research has shown a link between anxiety symptoms and dissociative experiences in adults. Dissociation refers to a range of symptoms involving disconnection or detachment, such as feelings of unreality (derealization) or disconnection from one’s body (depersonalization). Recent studies have identified a subset of dissociative experiences characterized by a subjective feeling of strangeness or unfamiliarity, known as a “felt sense of anomaly.”

While dissociation has been observed in adolescents with panic disorder, little is known about its relationship with anxiety symptoms more broadly during this developmental stage. Existing evidence-based treatments for adolescent anxiety do not address dissociation symptoms, highlighting the need to identify potential treatment targets.

## The Study

For their new study, the researchers conducted a cross-sectional online survey involving 1,211 adolescents aged 13-18 years from the United Kingdom. The participants completed six self-report questionnaires to measure various psychological constructs, including symptoms of trait anxiety, depersonalization, felt sense of anomaly, cognitive appraisals of dissociation, perseverative thinking, and body vigilance.

The researchers found that trait anxiety was indeed related to depersonalization and the felt sense of anomaly. This means that individuals with higher levels of anxious tendencies were more likely to experience a sense of detachment from themselves (depersonalization) and a subjective feeling of something being strange or unusual.

Next, the researchers explored whether cognitive appraisals of dissociation, perseverative thinking (repetitive thoughts), and body vigilance played a role in mediating the relationship between trait anxiety and these forms of dissociation.

The results showed that each of these factors individually mediated the relationship between trait anxiety and depersonalization or the felt sense of anomaly. When considering all the variables together, the researchers found different models that explained the variance in depersonalization and the felt sense of anomaly.

## Implications and Limitations

The study’s strengths include investigating anxiety symptoms and dissociation in adolescents, exploring two different constructs of dissociation, and recruiting a large and representative sample from the community. However, there are limitations in terms of generalizability to clinical populations, the use of self-selection in recruitment, and the cross-sectional design preventing causal conclusions.

“Anxiety was found to be associated with dissociation in a community sample of adolescents aged 13-18 years. Cognitive appraisals of dissociation (how someone thinks about their dissociative experiences) and perseverative thinking (e.g. worry) mediated the relationship between anxiety and dissociation,” said study author Katie Lofthouse of the University of East Anglia.

“As this study was cross-sectional, further research using a longitudinal design is required to assess the directionality of the relationships between anxiety, dissociation, and the mediating factors. In addition, the sample was recruited from the community so future research could involve a sample of clinically anxious participants.”

The findings of this study provide important insights into the relationship between anxiety and dissociation in adolescents. Further research is needed to explore potential treatment targets for dissociation symptoms in this population.

Leave a Comment