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Encephale. 1994 May-Jun;20(3):333-7.

[Life events and anxiety].

[Article in French]

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Clinique de l'Anxiété, C.H.U. de Lille.


During the last few decades many studies have examined the role of life events in psychiatric disorders. Majority of investigators have mainly focused on depression. Recently the specific etiological role of life events in anxiety have been reexamined. Two possible causal relationships have been hypothesized: loss or separation during childhood can serve as a predisposing factor for adult psychologic conditions and life events occurring in the months before the onset of anxiety disorder, can serve as a precipitating factor. However the main methodologic issue in life events research involves the distorting effect of time recall when life events are elicited retrospectively. Epidemiological and clinical data are consistent with the view that panic disorder is significantly and strongly associated with both parental death and separation in childhood. The relationship between recent life events and anxiety disorders remain unclear. Studies that compare recent life events of anxiety disorder subjects and controls have equivocal results. Different variables (number of events, type, impact) may play a role in anxiety. Recent data have also suggested that early and recent life events specially loss and separation may be a risk factor for secondary depression in anxiety. However, life events do not operate independently of other predispositional variables such as genetic, neurologic and cognitive factors. Further studies using a prospective design may be useful to clarify the relation between life events and anxiety.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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