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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a debilitating condition characterized by excessive, pervasive, uncontrollable, and paralyzing worries about a wide range of future situations. Individuals with this condition frequently find themselves stuck in worry and tension cycles in futile attempts at reducing uncertainty and increasing control. GAD has been associated with substantial impairments in functioning and reduced quality of life. GAD remains poorly understood, and the long-term efficacy and end-state functioning resulting from treatment are weaker compared to other anxiety disorders. Some treatments (e.g., emotion regulation therapy, acceptance-based behavioral therapy) have improved efficacy, partly by targeting emotional dysfunction. Basic psychopathology research has focused on identifying the role of negative affect in GAD, so little is known about how positive affect is experienced and regulated in this disorder. This is particularly important in light of the overlap of this condition with major depressive disorder, which is characterized by low or suppressed positive emotion. Developing such an understanding is essential to further improve the efficacy of emotion-based treatments. This chapter reviews current and future directions in the study of positive affect in GAD. The chapter reviews the nascent research on positive affect and GAD, then illustrates dimensions of future work.

Keywords: generalized anxiety disorder, GAD, positive affect, attentional processes, affective forecasting, reward learning, reward motivation

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