Anxiety in middle adulthood: effects of age and time on the 14-year course of panic disorder, social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: Much about the long-term course of anxiety disorders is unknown. The present study utilizes a naturalistic, longitudinal, short-interval follow-up design to elucidate the course of anxiety disorders over 14 years in a largely middle-aged adult sample recruited from out-patient psychiatry and primary care facilities. METHOD: The sample consisted of 453 participants with a diagnosis of panic disorder (PD), social phobia (SP) and/or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Anxiety symptom ratings were tracked using weekly psychiatric status ratings (PSRs). Controlling for demographic and clinical variables, the course of PD, GAD and SP were examined using longitudinal growth models, with the most severe PSR at each follow-up point as the main outcome variable. RESULTS: PSRs significantly decreased in severity over time in each of the three disorders. In the interaction effects models, age x time had a significant effect on course for PD and GAD, but not for SP, in that older age was associated with lower PSRs over time. CONCLUSIONS: The present findings suggest that the severity of anxiety disorders declines over time, although this decline is modest and depends on the specific disorder being assessed. Older individuals with PD and GAD have a better prognosis than their younger counterparts, as their course is characterized by a steeper decline in severity. The present findings provide important information about the course of anxiety disorders in mid-life.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ramsawh, HJ; Raffa, SD; Edelen, MO; Rende, R; Keller, MB

Published Date

  • April 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 39 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 615 - 624

PubMed ID

  • 18667095

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3679349

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0033-2917

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/S0033291708003954


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England