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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Apr;19(4):305-15. doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e318202bc62.

Prevalence and correlates of generalized anxiety disorder in a national sample of older adults.

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Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.



The objectives of this study are to provide current estimates of the prevalence and correlates of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).


The authors used Wave 2 data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which included 12,312 adults 55+ and older. In addition to examining the prevalence of GAD in the past year, this study explored psychiatric and medical comorbidity, health-related quality of life, and rates of help-seeking and self-medication.


The past-year prevalence of GAD in this sample was 2.80%, although only 0.53% had GAD without Axis I or II comorbidity. The majority of individuals with GAD had mood or other anxiety disorders, and approximately one quarter had a personality disorder. Individuals with GAD were also more likely to have various chronic health problems although these associations disappeared after controlling for psychiatric comorbidity. Health-related quality of life was reduced among older adults with GAD, even after controlling for health conditions and comorbid major depression. Finally, only 18% of those without and 28.3% with comorbid Axis I disorders sought professional help for GAD in the past year. Self-medication for symptom relief was rare (7.2%).


GAD is a common and disabling disorder in later life that is highly comorbid with mood, anxiety, and personality disorders; psychiatric comorbidity is associated with an increased risk of medical conditions in this population. Considering that late-life GAD is associated with impaired quality of life but low levels of professional help-seeking increased effort is needed to help individuals with this disorder to access effective treatments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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