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Longitudinal investigation of anxiety sensitivity growth trajectories and relations with anxiety and depression symptoms in adolescence

  • Nicholas P. Allan (a1), Julia W. Felton (a2), Carl W. Lejuez (a2), Laura MacPherson (a2) and Norman B. Schmidt (a1)...


Anxiety sensitivity (AS), the belief that anxious arousal is harmful, is a malleable risk factor that has been implicated in anxiety and depression symptoms in adolescents. Although there is some evidence that adolescents possess distinct developmental trajectories, few studies have explored this topic. This study examined the developmental trajectory of AS in 248 adolescents (M age = 11.0 years, SD = 0.82; 56% male) across 6 years, beginning when children were age 11. This study also examined the influence of AS trajectories on anxiety and depression at age 16. Finally, this study examined the utility of AS classes in identifying anxiety and depression growth. Three AS classes were found, described by normative-stable, high-stable, and high-unstable trajectories. Adolescents in the high-stable and the high-unstable AS classes had higher levels of anxiety and depression at age 16 than did adolescents in the normative-stable AS class. In addition, the anxiety and depression trajectories fit by AS class mirrored the AS class trajectories. These findings suggest three AS trajectories can be identified in adolescents. These trajectories are discussed in relation to a developmental perspective of AS.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Nicholas P. Allan or Norman B. Schmidt, Department of Psychology, Florida State University, P.O. Box 3064301, Tallahassee, FL 32306–4301; E-mail: or


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