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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Dec;26(12):1260-6. doi: 10.1002/gps.2675. Epub 2011 Feb 23.

Age and anxiety and depressive symptoms: the effect on domains of quality of life.

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Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.



The present study investigated whether anxiety and depressive symptomatology moderates the relationship between age and quality of life.


The study was a community-based survey using mailed questionnaires conducted within the Department of Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis. The community-based sample consisted of 443 adults ages 30-98 years recruited from university maintained volunteer registries. Quality of life was assessed using the World Health Organization Quality of Life-BREF assessment; depression was assessed using 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale and anxiety was assessed using the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale, a measure of social anxiety.


Depression and anxiety were negatively associated with quality of life in the Psychological and Social domains (all p's < 0.001), but age was not (Psychological, p = 0.07; Social, p = 0.98). In addition to depression and anxiety, age was also associated with quality of life in the other two domains, negatively for the Physical domain and positively for the Environmental domain. These main effects were qualified by significant three-way interactions in both domains.


Although both anxiety and depression negatively affect Psychological and Social quality of life, age does not. Environmental quality of life increased with age, while Physical quality of life decreased. The deleterious relationship between anxiety and depressive symptomatology and Physical and Environmental quality of life was moderated by age. Older adults with high levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms reported better Environmental and less severe decrements in Physical quality of life compared with middle-aged adults with similar symptomatology.

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