People who worry may be endangering their social relationships, according to a new study.
A new research from a Case Western Reserve University faculty member in psychology shows that when people do worry from time-to-time, it can be intrusive and obsessive and interferes in one's life, thus affecting the heath of their social relationships.
The study, titled Interpersonal Pathoplasticity in Individuals With Generalized Anxiety Disorder, is published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
These people are suffering from what is called generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, said Amy Przeworski, a Case Western Reserve psychologist.
People with GAD often put social relationships with family, friends, or coworkers at the top of their lists of worries. However, they use negative methods to cope ? from over nurturing to extreme detachment- that may be destructive.
Researchers saw that people in therapy for GAD displayed their worries in different ways based on how they interacted with others.
In two studies they found four different interactive styles that stuck out among people with GAD ? intrusive, cold, nonassertive and exploitable - and the studies supported the presence of these four interpersonal styles and their significant role in how people with GAD showed their worrying.
"All individuals with these styles worried to the same extent and extreme, but manifested those worries in different ways," Przeworski said.
For example, two people with similar worries about someone's health and safety.
One person may show that worry through frequent intrusive expressions of concern for the other person. Think of the parent or spouse who calls every five minutes to get an update on what's happening, for example.
Another person may display his or her worry by criticizing the behaviors that the person believes to be careless or reckless.
"The worry may be similar, but the impact of the worry on their interpersonal relationships would be extremely different. This suggests that interpersonal problems and worry may be intertwined," Przeworski said.
Przeworski suggested that therapies to treat GAD should target both the worry and the related interpersonal problems.
A press release stated that most treatments for GAD depend on cognitive behavioral therapy, a treatment that is usually successful for about 60 percent of people. However, one way to improve therapy for worriers may be to integrate techniques that target the interpersonal relationship problems.