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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 51 (2009) 1, 21 - 30

New research

Developmental trajectories of anxiety disorder symptoms in adolescents: A five-year prospective community study

W.W. Hale III, T.A. Klimstra, S.A.M. Wijsbroek, Q.A.W. Raaijmakers, P. Muris, W.H.J. Meeus

background The relatively recent adoption of modern statistical analysis methods, such as latent growth modelling (lgm), makes it possible to study differences in the individual trajectories of development over time.
aim To examine prospectively the developmental trajectories of anxiety disorder symptoms in a large sample of adolescents (N = 1,318) from the general population over a period of five years.
method The adolescents were divided into two cohorts: early adolescents (average age 12 at the first measurement) and middle adolescents (average age 16 at the first measurement). Age and gender differences in the developmental trajectories of adolescent anxiety disorder symptoms over time were examined by means of lgm.
results Over the course of five years there was a slight decrease in panic disorder, school anxiety and separation anxiety disorder symptoms for all adolescents, with the exception of social phobia symptoms, which remained fairly stable over time. Adolescent girls showed a slight increase in generalised anxiety disorder symptoms over time, whereas these symptoms decreased among adolescent boys.
conclusion The use of individual trajectory-based analyses, enabled us to study advance our understanding of age and gender differences in the development of adolescent anxiety symptoms.

keywords adolescent, anxiety, developmental trajectories, latent growth modelling, prospective