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Psychiatry Res. 2003 Feb 15;117(2):159-66.

Lifetime comorbidity of antisocial personality disorder and anxiety disorders among adults in the community.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


The association between lifetime anxiety disorders, conduct disorder (CD), and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) among adults in the community was explored. Data were drawn from the National Comorbidity Survey (n = 5,877), a representative community sample of adults aged 15-54 in the 48 contiguous US states. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to determine the association between anxiety disorders, CD and ASPD, and between the co-occurrence of anxiety disorders and ASPD in the likelihood of comorbid substance use and affective disorders, suicidal ideation (SI) and suicide attempt (SA). Out of the 3.3% of adults with ASPD, over half (54.33%) had a comorbid anxiety disorder (lifetime). Similarly, 42.31% of adults with a history of CD (9.4%) who did not meet criteria for ASPD had a lifetime anxiety disorder. Social phobia [OR = 1.65 (1.01, 2.7)] and post-traumatic stress disorder [OR = 2.28 (1.3, 4.0)] were associated with significantly increased odds of ASPD, after adjusting for differences in sociodemographic characteristics and other psychiatric comorbidity. Major depression was no longer significantly associated with ASPD after adjusting for anxiety disorders. The comorbidity of anxiety disorders and ASPD was associated with significantly higher odds of major depression, substance use disorders, and SI and SA compared with odds among those without both disorders. These data provide initial evidence of an association between PTSD and social phobia and an increased likelihood of ASPD among adults in the community, after adjustment for comorbid affective and substance use disorders. Adults with ASPD and comorbid anxiety had significantly higher levels of comorbid major depression, alcohol dependence, and substance dependence and substantially higher rates of lifetime suicidal ideation and suicide attempts compared to adults with ASPD or anxiety disorders alone or with neither disorder. Future studies are needed to replicate this finding using longitudinal data and to investigate the possible mechanisms of the observed links between anxiety disorders and ASPD.

Copyright 2003 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

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