Somatic symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder from the DSM-IV: Associations with pathological worry and depression symptoms in a nonclinical sample

Jutta Joormann, Joachim Stöber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations


The present study investigates specificity of the six somatic symptoms that are associated with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), according to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A nonclinical sample of 183 students provided severity ratings for (a) restlessness, (b) easily fatigued, (c) difficulty concentrating, (d) irritability, (e) muscle tension, and (f) sleep disturbance. In addition, they responded to questionnaires assessing pathological worry and depression symptoms. Partial correlations and multiple regression analyses indicated that only muscle tension showed a unique relation to pathological worry. In contrast, difficulty concentrating was exclusively related to depression symptoms. Present findings corroborate psychophysiological findings that elevated muscle tension is a specific characteristic of pathological worriers. Moreover, they suggest that the problem of unclear boundaries between GAD and major depression may be reduced if future revisions of the somatic symptom list for GAD emphasize muscle tension while de-emphasizing difficulty concentrating. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-503
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1999



  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Worry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

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