The role of anger in generalized anxiety disorder

Cogn Behav Ther. 2012;41(3):261-71. doi: 10.1080/16506073.2012.666564. Epub 2012 Mar 19.


Little is known about the role of anger in the context of anxiety disorders, particularly with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The aim of study was to examine the relationship between specific dimensions of anger and GAD. Participants (N=381) completed a series of questionnaires, including the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire (GAD-Q-IV; Newman et al., 2002, Behavior Therapy, 33, 215-233), the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI-2; Spielberger 1999, State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2: STAXI-2 professional manual, Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources) and the Aggression Questionnaire (AQ; Buss & Perry 1992, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 452-459). The GAD-Q-IV identifies individuals who meet diagnostic criteria for GAD (i.e. GAD analogues) and those who do not (non-GAD). The STAXI-2 includes subscales for trait anger, externalized anger expression, internalized anger expression, externalized anger control and internalized anger control. The AQ includes subscales for physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger and hostility. The GAD-Q-IV significantly correlated with all STAXI-2 and AQ subscales (r's ranging from .10 to .46). Multivariate analyses of variance revealed that GAD analogues significantly differed from non-GAD participants on the combined STAXI-2 subscales (η2=.098); high levels of trait anger and internalized anger expression contributed the most to GAD group membership. GAD analogue participants also significantly differed from non-GAD participants on the combined AQ subscales (η2=.156); high levels of anger (affective component of aggression) and hostility contributed the most to GAD group membership. Within the GAD analogue group, the STAXI-2 and AQ subscales significantly predicted GAD symptom severity (R2=.124 and .198, respectively). Elevated levels of multiple dimensions of anger characterize individuals who meet diagnostic criteria for GAD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anger*
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hostility*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires