Anxiety disorders in later life: prevalence, risk factors and comorbidity with depression
06 / 1997 - 01 / 2004
[OBJECTIVES:] To study: 1) the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the elderly in the community; 2) the risk factors involved with anxiety disorders in the elderly; 3) the relationship between anxiety disorders and depression in later life; 4) the consequences of late-life anxiety disorders; 5) the course of late-life anxiety disorders.[METHODS:] A two-stage screening design to diagnose anxiety disorders in a random, stratified sample of elderly people (55-85 years) in the Netherlands (n=3100). Measurement of anxiety disorders, depression and risk factors by means of structured interviews, with a 6-year follow-up. [RESULTS:] A survey of the literature demonstrates that anxiety disorders in later life are probably common and invalidating, but that they have received very little systematic attention from either clinicians or researchers. The prevalence is, indeed, high. The risk-factor profile suggests that vulnerability factors dominate. There is considerable comorbidity with depression. However, when this is accounted for, 'pure' anxiety and 'pure' depression appear to be distinct disorders, the mixed anxiety and depression group representing a more severely affected sub-group of patients. The consequences of anxiety appear to be severe for both the well-being and daily functioning of older people.