The Relation Between Worry and Mental Health in Nonclinical Population and Individuals with Anxiety and Depressive Disorders: A Meta-Analysis

Andreea Vîslă*, Céline Stadelmann, Edward Watkins, Richard E. Zinbarg, Christoph Flückiger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Although worry is well-known to share a robust relationship with psychopathology, whether this association is higher in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) versus other anxiety disorders and depressive disorder, and clinical versus nonclinical populations is unclear. Methods: We conducted a meta-analysis in which the association between worry and various mental health indicators was quantitatively summarized using a random-effects model; additionally, several moderators were tested. Results: Results synthesizing data from 120 correlational studies (138 independent samples) conducted over the past 35 years indicate a strong association between worry and poor mental health (r =.53) but also high heterogeneity. This association was not systematically impacted by the study population or whether individuals had a diagnosis of GAD or major depressive disorder (MDD). Participants’ age and how worry and mental health were measured moderated this association. Conclusions: The main findings suggest that (1) worry is strongly associated with poor mental health, (2) worry is associated with poor mental health even outside of GAD and clinical populations included in the current meta-analysis, and (3) there are differences in this association across the lifespan. Overall, the results from this meta-analysis support earlier calls for intense worry to be assessed and treated, regardless of whether the individual has a diagnosis of GAD or MDD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mental health
  • Transdiagnostic
  • Worry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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