Patients with generalized anxiety disorder and a history of trauma: somatic symptom endorsement

J Psychiatr Pract. 2005 May;11(3):212-5. doi: 10.1097/00131746-200505000-00010.


The authors investigated the types and rates of trauma exposure and differences in symptom endorsement in a clinical sample of patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Fifty-eight patients with GAD were assessed using the Structured Clinical Interview (SCID) and Trauma Assessment for Adults. In order to explore the relationship between specific traumatic event(s) and clinical presentation, the presence of somatic symptoms associated with GAD, including muscle tension, autonomic hyperactivity, and vigilance/scanning clusters (using DSM-III-R criteria), were examined. Patients with a history of sexual assault before 18 years (25.9%) endorsed fewer somatic symptoms, specifically fewer motor tension and autonomic GAD symptoms, than patients with other types of trauma. These findings indicate that early exposure to serious trauma, specifically childhood sexual assault, may lead to a different clinical presentation in GAD patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / complications*
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Somatoform Disorders / complications*
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis