Exploring which anxiety-related disorder symptoms and mechanisms are associated with COVID-19 anxiety
anxiety disorders, COVID-19 pandemic
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a rise in anxiety has been reported among the population. This rise coincides with the introduction of COVID-19 anxiety, which is the fear and emotional distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous research has found an association between COVID-19 anxiety and symptoms of health anxiety, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. COVID-19 anxiety has also been associated with mechanisms such as anxiety sensitivity, maladaptive metacognitions, intolerance of uncertainty, and the emotion of disgust. In the current study, self-report questionnaires were used to examine which anxiety-related disorder symptoms, and related mechanisms, were associated with COVID-19 anxiety. A total of 593 MacEwan students completed the study between September 2020 and February 2021. A set of regression analyses examined which anxiety-related disorder symptoms were uniquely associated with COVID-19 anxiety. The two symptoms most associated with COVID-19 anxiety were health anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms. When examining the anxiety-related mechanisms, a second set of regression analyses identified disgust sensitivity and health anxiety-specific intolerance of uncertainty as having the strongest association with COVID-19 anxiety. Based on these findings, clinicians may wish to screen for COVID-19 anxiety in clients experiencing health anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, or panic disorder symptoms. Lastly, clinicians may find it helpful to target the clients' responses to feelings of disgust, and their health anxiety-specific intolerance of uncertainty, when working with clients experiencing high levels of COVID-19 anxiety.
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