Relationships between self-management skills, worry, and generalized anxiety disorder symptoms
Penney, Alexander M.
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Self-management skills allow people to change maladaptive behaviour patterns, and consist of three interdependent facets: self-monitoring, self-evaluating, and self-reinforcing. One type of maladaptive behaviour is uncontrollable worry, which is the defining feature of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This study examined whether self-management skills relate to GAD symptoms and inaccurate beliefs about worry. The study also examined the role of positive and negative beliefs about worry in GAD. Finally, it explored whether a self-management intervention could alleviate distress caused by worry, and if the effectiveness varied as a function of an individual's pre-existing self-management skills. One hundred and fifty-nine participants completed questionnaires on self-management skills, beliefs about worry, and GAD symptoms. One hundred and twenty-six participants returned to complete a worry-induction, and either a self-management intervention or control condition. Self-evaluation skills were found to be negatively correlated with GAD symptoms and the negative belief that worry is uncontrollable and dangerous. Further, the belief that worry is uncontrollable and dangerous was a unique predictor of GAD symptoms. With poorly developed self-evaluating skills, individuals may be more likely to believe that worry is dangerous, which leads to more GAD symptoms. The self-management intervention was found to be more effective than the passage of time in removing negative affect and anxiety, and increasing positive affect. Participants with well developed self-management skills who used their skills had the greatest decreases in negative affect, while participants who had less developed self-management skills and did not use their skills had the smallest decreases. Overall, these findings suggest that self-management skills may play an etiological role in GAD, and including self-management skills into current therapy models may improve outcome.