Anxiety Disorders


Anxiety disorders are a group of illnesses characterised by persistent feelings of high anxiety, and extreme discomfort and tension. Included in this group are: generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder with and without agoraphobia, agoraphobia, social phobia, specific phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Current Research Projects

Current projects in Anxiety Disorders involving members of the Discipline are listed below.


Discipline of Psychiatry Anxiety and Depression Project

  • The Discipline of Psychiatry has initiated a research project exploring diganostic decision-making in anxiety and depression in general practice. A number of Discipline of Psychiatry members are involved and are collaborating with Prof. Tim Usherwood and Dr Narelle Shadbolt from the Discipline of General Practice at Sydney Medical School.
  • Case-based workshops, facitlitated by either Prof. Usherwood or Dr Shadbolt and with a psychiatrist in attendance for later discussion, are currently being offered in venues around Sydney. More information is available at

Lisa Lampe

Vladan Starcevic

Gin Malhi

Philip Boyce

Anthony Harris

Garry Walter

Problem video game use: Assessment, characteristics and relationship to psychopathology

  • This project is based on the online survey of video game use administered through the Nepean Clinical School. More than 2000 video game players from around the world participated in the survey.

  • The results of the survey continue to be published, but they have already attracted considerable attention from the media and other researchers.

  • One of the main goals of the project is to shed more light on problem video game use and understand its links with “behavioural addictions”, the spectrum of impulse control disorders and other psychopathology. This may have major implications for the management of this maladaptive behavioural pattern.
Vladan Starcevic

Psychopathology, Patterns of Co-occurrence, Cognitive Styles and Their Stability in Various Anxiety Disorders Treated in an Anxiety Disorders Clinic

  • The goal of this project is to investigate various aspects of anxiety disorders as they occur in the “real world” of clinical practice. The focus is on the similarities and differences in the presentation of various anxiety disorders, especially in terms of the associated cognitive styles (e.g., pathological worry, intolerance of uncertainty, etc), relationships with other forms of psychopathology, and gender differences. 
  • This is an ongoing project, with project participants recruited mainly through the Nepean Anxiety Disorders Clinic.

Vladan Starcevic

Social Phobia and Avoidant Personality Disorder

  • This research will examine similarities and differences between social phobia and avoidant personality disorder in an effort to answer the question of whether these disorders are best thought of as existing on a continuum, or whether their current categorical classification is justified.
  • In the current phase of this project, epidemiological data from the first National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing in Australia is being examined. This data is particularly valuable among epidemiological surveys because it included some screening questions about personality disorder, hence it may provide important clues in answering the research question.
Lisa Lampe

Instruments Used in the Assessment of Mental Disorders - Novel Measures, Revisions and Reappraisals of Psychometric Properties

  • This project has been undertaken as part of the activities of the World Psychiatric Association’s Section on Measurement Instruments in Psychiatric Care (of which Vladan Starcevic is the Chair). 
  • The aims are to revisit psychometric properties of the well-established instruments (e.g., Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, Kessler-10 Questionnaire), test the usefulness and psychometric properties of the brief and potentially more practical versions of other measures (e.g., Penn State Worry Questionnaire), and investigate the novel instruments (e.g., Nepean Dysphoria Scale, Functions of Compulsions Questionnaire, Video Game Use Questionnaire, Nepean Assessment of Beliefs Scale).

Vladan Starcevic

Bill Brakoulias

Novel Perspectives on Somatisation and Hypochondriasis

  • This is a collaborative project with several researchers outside Australia. Its aim is to investigate alternative ways of conceptualising, classifying and managing somatization, abnormal illness behaviour and hypochondriasis. 
  • The specific aspects of the project are its integrative approach and investigation of the relevant phenomena and procedures, such as the overvalued ideas, fear of death, attachment issues, and provision of reassurance.

Vladan Starcevic

Symptom-based Subtypes of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

  • The main goal of this project is to study putative subtypes of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This is important in view of the heterogeneity of OCD and its links with various other disorders. Participants are recruited from various sources and undergo a comprehensive assessment; they are followed up for up to 2 years, with the subsequent assessments occurring at 6 months, 12 months and 24 months after the baseline assessment. 
  • This project also addresses issues such as obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders, personality characteristics and beliefs associated with OCD, the role of disgust in some subtypes of OCD, and the conceptualisation of the relationship between obsessions, avoidance and compulsions in OCD.

Vladan Starcevic

Bill Brakoulias


Discipline members with an interest in Anxiety Disorders are: