Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Dr. Dean Cruess,Jeffrey D. Burke, John Salamone

Field of Study

Psychological Sciences


Master of Science

Open Access

Campus Access


Objective: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a severe anxiety disorder, characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worry. This study examined the relationship between individual trauma history and generalized anxiety symptoms.

Methods: Among young adults with reported elevated generalized anxiety symptoms, this study evaluated group differences between individuals with severe trauma history and non-severe trauma history, related to emotional, attentional, and physiological measures of anxiety. This study assessed heart rate and blood pressure taken before completing an emotional processing task. Participants also completed self-report psychosocial measures of depressed mood, sleep, worry and anxiety. All measures were completed in a single 2-hr study visit.

Results: Participants were 60 young adult college students aged 18-22 years, predominantly female (n=47; 78.3%), and racially/ethnically representative of the entire campus. Individual trauma history did not significantly account for differences in any self-report psychosocial measures. However, individuals who reported more exposure to traumatic events had significantly higher resting diastolic blood pressure compared to individuals who reported less exposure to traumatic events.

Conclusions: Differences in psychosocial self-reported outcomes were not explained by trauma history in this preliminary analysis of young adult college students. Future research may benefit from larger samples, and analyses of underlying transdiagnostic symptoms potentially affecting individual presentation of GAD.

Major Advisor

Dr. Dean Cruess