JOURNAL ARTICLE

High occurrence of mood and anxiety disorders among older adults: The National Comorbidity Survey Replication

Amy L Byers, Kristine Yaffe, Kenneth E Covinsky, Michael B Friedman, Martha L Bruce
Archives of General Psychiatry 2010, 67 (5): 489-96
20439830

CONTEXT: Little is known about prevalence rates of DSM-IV disorders across age strata of older adults, including common conditions such as individual and coexisting mood and anxiety disorders.

OBJECTIVE: To determine nationally representative estimates of 12-month prevalence rates of mood, anxiety, and comorbid mood-anxiety disorders across young-old, mid-old, old-old, and oldest-old community-dwelling adults.

DESIGN: The National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) is a population-based probability sample of 9282 participants 18 years and older, conducted between February 2001 and April 2003. The NCS-R survey used the fully structured World Health Organization World Mental Health Survey version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.

SETTING: Continental United States.

PARTICIPANTS: We studied the 2575 participants 55 years and older who were part of NCS-R (43%, 55-64 years; 32%, 65-74 years; 20%, 75-84 years; 5%, >or=85 years). This included only noninstitutionalized adults, as all NCS-R participants resided in households within the community.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Twelve-month prevalence of mood disorders (major depressive disorder, dysthymia, bipolar disorder), anxiety disorders (panic disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobia, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder), and coexisting mood-anxiety disorder were assessed using DSM-IV criteria. Prevalence rates were weighted to adjust for the complex design to infer generalizability to the US population.

RESULTS: The likelihood of having a mood, anxiety, or combined mood-anxiety disorder generally showed a pattern of decline with age (P < .05). Twelve-month disorders showed higher rates in women compared with men, a statistically significant trend with age. In addition, anxiety disorders were as high if not higher than mood disorders across age groups (overall 12-month rates: mood, 5% and anxiety, 12%). No differences were found between race/ethnicity groups.

CONCLUSION: Prevalence rates of DSM-IV mood and anxiety disorders in late life tend to decline with age, but remain very common, especially in women. These results highlight the need for intervention and prevention strategies.

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