High levels of anxiety and psychological well-being in college students: A dual factor model of mental health approach

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Katherine Carver, Hajar Ismail, Christopher Reed, Justin Hayes, Haifa Alsaif, Marisa Villanueva, Sarah Sass


Anxiety disorders are prevalent among college students and contribute to problems in social and academic functioning. The primary focus in the anxiety literature has been on symptoms and deficits in functioning rather than psychological well-being. The present study investigated the extent to which high levels of anxiety co-occurred with self-reported psychological well-being using a dual-factor model of mental health approach. Participants (n = 100) were categorized into two groups (high anxiety crossed with low and high life satisfaction), and groups were compared on several psychological well-being indicators. Supporting a dual-factor approach, students reporting high levels of anxiety and life satisfaction reported higher levels of hope, grit, gratitude, self-focused positive rumination, and savoring of positive emotions than students reporting high levels of anxiety and low levels of life satisfaction. Groups did not differ in emotion-focused positive rumination or in dampening of positive emotion. These results highlight well-being heterogeneity within individuals reporting high levels of anxiety, with implications for treatment and prevention efforts.

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