Amy Przeworski of Case Western Reserve and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University say those with generalized anxiety disorder frequently put social relationships with family, friends or co-workers at the top of their lists of worries. However, the negative methods they use to cope -- from over nurturing to extreme detachment -- may be destructive.
The researchers say they observed that people in therapy for generalized anxiety disorder manifested their worries in different ways based on how they interact with other people.
In two studies, researchers found four distinct interactive styles prominent among people with generalized anxiety disorder -- intrusive, cold, non-assertive and exploitable, Przeworski says.
Both studies supported the presence of these four interpersonal styles and their significant role in how people with generalized anxiety disorder manifested their worrying.
"All individuals with these styles worried to the same extent and extreme, but manifested those worries in different ways," Przeworski says.
For example, one may exhibit that worry through telephone calls every 5 minutes, while another may exhibit the worry by criticizing the behaviors of another person he believes to be reckless.
The study is published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.