Generalized anxiety in community-dwelling elderly: Prevalence and clinical characteristics

Abstract : BACKGROUND : Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a chronic and disabling disorder with a low rate of full remission. As it is commonly assumed that cases in the elderly principally represent the continuing chronic course of early onset illness, there has been little research into the clinical characteristics, including comorbid psychiatric and physical conditions, which may be specific to older people. METHODS : Lifetime GAD and psychiatric comorbidity were diagnosed in 1974 community-dwelling elderly people aged 65 or over using a standardized psychiatric examination, the MINI, based on DSM-IV criteria. Multivariate regression analyses were adjusted for socio-demographic, lifestyle, biological, and clinical variables, as well as adverse life events. RESULTS : The lifetime prevalence of GAD was 11% (95% CI=9.6-12.4%) of whom 24.6% reported a late onset with a first episode after 50 years of age. The 6-month current prevalence was 4.6% (95% CI=3.7-5.5%). Most of the prevalent cases were recurrent but only 36.3% were receiving treatment. Fourteen percent were comorbid with major depression and 34% with phobia but their associated factors differed. The factors associated with pure GAD were being female, having cognitive impairment, lower body mass index, reporting low affective support during childhood, taking a high number of somatic medications independently of other mental health factors, e.g. psychotropic medication use, major depression, and phobia. LIMITATIONS : The study is limited by cross-sectional design. CONCLUSIONS : Our data indicate that GAD prevalence is high in elderly people with a late-life onset of GAD in 25% of cases. GAD in the elderly is not just a severity marker of depression and is clinically distinct from phobia, the other major anxiety disorder of the elderly.
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Xiaobin Zhang, Joanna Norton, Isabelle Carrière, Karen Ritchie, Isabelle Chaudieu, et al.. Generalized anxiety in community-dwelling elderly: Prevalence and clinical characteristics. Journal of Affective Disorders, Elsevier, 2015, 172, pp.24-29. ⟨10.1016/j.jad.2014.09.036⟩. ⟨hal-02400630⟩

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