Suicidal ideation and anxiety disorders: elevated risk or artifact of comorbid depression?

Peter J Norton, Samuel R Temple, Jeremy W Pettit
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 2008, 39 (4): 515-25
Research into the possible relationship between anxiety disorders and suicidal ideation has yielded mixed results, leading some to suggest that the positive findings between anxiety and suicidal ideation might simply be a by-product of comorbid depression. Recent work has suggested that having an anxiety disorder without history of mood disorder does convey increased risk for suicidal ideation, although the study could not assess for the possible impact of subsyndromal depressiveness. This current study, therefore, examined the relationship between anxiety disorder symptoms and suicidality using continuous scales and controlling for depressiveness. Data regarding the severity of panic, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms were obtained from a sample of 166 college students. Results generally supported the conclusions that anxiety disorders convey risk for suicidal ideation above and beyond any co-occurring depressiveness, and anxiety and depression together conveyed an additional interactive risk.

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