Gender-Specific Developmental Trajectories of Anxiety during Adolescence: Determinants and Outcomes. The TRAILS Study
Objective: To identify developmental trajectories of anxiety symptoms for adolescent girls and boys. Trajectories were compared with regard to early-adolescent risk factors and psychiatric outcomes during adolescence and in young adulthood. Method: A community sample of 2,230 adolescents was assessed three times across a 6-year interval (10-17 years). Symptom scores of anxiety were analyzed with growth mixture models, stratified by gender. Results: Three gender-specific anxiety trajectories were identified for both girls (93.3% low, 4.1% mid-adolescence limited, 2.6% mid-adolescence increasing) and boys (84.4% low, 9.5% mid-adolescence limited, 6.1% early-adolescence decreasing). Child, family and peer factors at baseline predicted group membership of the mid-adolescence limited anxiety trajectory and the early-adolescence decreasing anxiety trajectory in boys. Parental emotional problems predicted the early-adolescence anxiety increase trajectory in girls. Prevalence of anxiety disorders and depression during adolescence and in early adulthood was higher in both the mid-adolescence limited and the mid-adolescence anxiety increase trajectory. Conclusions: The longitudinal course of anxiety symptoms during adolescence is characterized by three distinct gender-specific developmental trajectories. The identification of high-risk anxiety trajectories and their determinants could provide valuable information for prevention programs.