Impact of Early Adolescent Anxiety Disorders on Self-Esteem Development From Adolescence to Young Adulthood

Journal of Adolescent Health, 05/08/2013

Maldonado L et al. – To examine the association between early adolescent anxiety disorders and self–esteem development from early adolescence through young adulthood. All but one of the assessed adolescent anxiety disorders were related to lower self–esteem, with social phobia having the greatest impact. OCD predicted a decline in self–esteem trajectory with age. The importance of raising self–esteem in adolescents with anxiety and other mental disorders is discussed.


  • Self-esteem was measured at mean ages 13, 16, and 22 for 821 participants from the Children in the Community Study, a population-based longitudinal cohort. Anxiety disorders were measured at mean age 13 years.
  • Multilevel growth models were employed to analyze the change in self-esteem from early adolescence to young adulthood and to evaluate whether adolescent anxiety disorders predict both average and slope of self-esteem development.


  • Self-esteem increased during adolescence and continued to increase in young adulthood.
  • Girls had lower average self-esteem than boys, but this difference disappeared when examining the effect of anxiety.
  • Adolescents with anxiety disorder had lower self-esteem, on average, compared with healthy adolescents (effect size [ES] = -.35, p < .01).
  • Social phobia was found to have the greatest relative impact on average self-esteem, followed by overanxious disorder, and simple phobia.
  • Obsessive compulsive-disorder (OCD) predicted a significant decline in self-esteem from adolescence to young adulthood. Separation anxiety disorder was not found to have any significant impact on self-esteem development.

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