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Risk factors for late-onset generalized anxiety disorder: results from a 12-year prospective cohort (the ESPRIT study).

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Full Article: Risk factors for late-onset generalized anxiety disorder- results from a 12-year prospective cohort (the ESPRIT study)

Zhang X1, Norton J2, Carrière I2, Ritchie K3, Chaudieu I2, Ancelin ML2.


Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a chronic and highly prevalent disorder associated with increased disability and mortality in the elderly. Treatment is difficult with low rate of full remission, thus highlighting the need to identify early predictors for prevention in elderly people. The aim of this study is to identify and characterize incident GAD predictors in elderly people. A total of 1711 individuals aged 65 years and above and free of GAD at baseline were randomly recruited from electoral rolls between 1999 and 2001 (the prospective ESPRIT study). The participants were examined at baseline and five times over 12 years. GAD and psychiatric comorbidity were diagnosed with a standardized psychiatric examination, the Mini-International Neuropsychiatry Interview on the basis of DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition) criteria and validated by a clinical panel. During the follow-up, 8.4% (95% confidence interval=7.1-9.7%) of the participants experienced incident GAD, 80% being first episodes; the incident rate being 10 per 1000 person-years. The principal predictors of late-onset incident GAD over 12 years derived from a multivariate Cox model were being female, recent adverse life events, having chronic physical (respiratory disorders, arrhythmia and heart failure, dyslipidemia, cognitive impairment) and mental (depression, phobia and past GAD) health disorders. Poverty, parental loss or separation and low affective support during childhood, as well as history of mental problems in parents were also significantly and independently associated with incident GAD. GAD appears as a multifactorial stress-related affective disorder resulting from both proximal and distal risk factors, some of them being potentially modifiable by health care intervention.

Published: Transl Psychiatry. 2015 Mar 31;5:e536