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Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

Print version ISSN 2237-6089On-line version ISSN 2238-0019


TOAZZA, Rudineia et al. Phonemic verbal fluency and severity of anxiety disorders in young children. Trends Psychiatry Psychother. [online]. 2016, vol.38, n.2, pp.100-104. ISSN 2238-0019.


Previous studies have implicated impaired verbal fluency as being associated with anxiety disorders in adolescents.


To replicate and extend previously reported evidence by investigating whether performance in phonemic verbal fluency tasks is related to severity of anxiety symptoms in young children with anxiety disorders. We also aim to investigate whether putative associations are independent from co-occurring attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms.


Sixty children (6-12 years old) with primary diagnoses of anxiety disorders participated in this study. Severity of symptoms was measured using clinician-based, parent-rated and self-rated validated scales. Verbal fluency was assessed using a simple task that measures the number of words evoked in 1-minute with the letter F, from which we quantified the number of isolated words, number of clusters (groups of similar words) and number of switches (transitions between clusters and/or between isolated words).


There was a significant association between the number of clusters and anxiety scores. Further analysis revealed associations were independent from co-occurring ADHD symptoms.


We replicate and extend previous findings showing that verbal fluency is consistently associated with severity in anxiety disorders in children. Further studies should explore the potential effect of cognitive training on symptoms of anxiety disorders.

Keywords : Anxiety disorders; executive function; verbal fluency; language.

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