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Depress Anxiety. 2001;14(4):219-25.

Infrequency of "pure" GAD: impact of psychiatric comorbidity on clinical course.

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Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02906, USA.


The widespread occurrence of psychiatric comorbidity among patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has been well documented. However, there is a paucity of studies examining the impact comorbid disorders have on the clinical course of GAD. In this study, 179 patients with GAD at intake, 12 patients with a past history of GAD, and 109 patients who subsequently onset a first episode of GAD during the course of follow-up were followed for 8 years in this naturalistic, prospective study of anxiety disorders. Results indicate that comorbid anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders are very common with GAD and increased during follow-up. For example, 39% of participants with GAD also had a comorbid diagnosis of major depressive disorder at intake and increased to 65% at 4 years and 74% at the 8-year follow-up. Inspection of "pure" cases of GAD indicated that out of 20 patients with GAD alone at intake, all but 1 went on to develop some comorbidity. Results also indicate that being in episode of comorbid MDD or panic disorder with agoraphobia decreased the probability that a subject would remit from their GAD. The findings highlight the need for such long-term, prospective research since results show that patients with GAD at intake had increasing risk for developing other mental disorders during subsequent follow-ups. Additionally, results of such high comorbidity and the impact of these comorbid disorders on the clinical course of GAD should have a notable impact on research into the treatment of GAD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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