The Link Between Anxiety Severity and Irritability Among Anxious Youth: Evaluating the Mediating Role of Sleep Problems

Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 2018 Jun;49(3):352-359. doi: 10.1007/s10578-017-0769-1.


Although recent studies have linked pediatric anxiety to irritability, research has yet to examine the mechanisms through which youth anxiety may be associated with irritability. Importantly, sleep related problems (SRPs) have been associated with both child anxiety and irritability, but research has not considered whether the link between youth anxiety and irritability may be accounted for by SRPs. The present study investigated whether SRPs mediated the relationship between anxiety severity and irritability in a large sample of treatment-seeking anxious youth (N = 435; ages 7-19 years, M = 12.7; 55.1% female). Anxiety severity, SRPs and irritability showed significant pairwise associations, and the indirect effect of youth anxiety severity on irritability, via SRPs, was positive and significant. The present analysis is the first to examine youth anxiety, irritability, and SPRs in a single model in a sample of anxious youth, and provides preliminary evidence that SRPs partially mediate links between child anxiety and irritability.

Keywords: Anxiety; Irritability; Mediation; Sleep; Youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / complications*
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / complications*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Mood*
  • Male
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology*
  • Young Adult