COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication

Ronald C Kessler, Patricia Berglund, Olga Demler, Robert Jin, Kathleen R Merikangas, Ellen E Walters
Archives of General Psychiatry 2005, 62 (6): 593-602
15939837

CONTEXT: Little is known about lifetime prevalence or age of onset of DSM-IV disorders.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the recently completed National Comorbidity Survey Replication.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Nationally representative face-to-face household survey conducted between February 2001 and April 2003 using the fully structured World Health Organization World Mental Health Survey version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.

PARTICIPANTS: Nine thousand two hundred eighty-two English-speaking respondents aged 18 years and older.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Lifetime DSM-IV anxiety, mood, impulse-control, and substance use disorders.

RESULTS: Lifetime prevalence estimates are as follows: anxiety disorders, 28.8%; mood disorders, 20.8%; impulse-control disorders, 24.8%; substance use disorders, 14.6%; any disorder, 46.4%. Median age of onset is much earlier for anxiety (11 years) and impulse-control (11 years) disorders than for substance use (20 years) and mood (30 years) disorders. Half of all lifetime cases start by age 14 years and three fourths by age 24 years. Later onsets are mostly of comorbid conditions, with estimated lifetime risk of any disorder at age 75 years (50.8%) only slightly higher than observed lifetime prevalence (46.4%). Lifetime prevalence estimates are higher in recent cohorts than in earlier cohorts and have fairly stable intercohort differences across the life course that vary in substantively plausible ways among sociodemographic subgroups.

CONCLUSIONS: About half of Americans will meet the criteria for a DSM-IV disorder sometime in their life, with first onset usually in childhood or adolescence. Interventions aimed at prevention or early treatment need to focus on youth.

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