Sooner or later: Age at onset of generalized anxiety disorder in older adults

School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
Depression and Anxiety (Impact Factor: 4.41). 01/2012; 29(1):39-46. DOI: 10.1002/da.20881
Source: PubMed


Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common disorder in older adults, with widespread and long-lasting consequences. In this study, we assessed the characteristics associated with lifetime GAD in community-dwelling adults according to their age at onset of the disorder.
Study sample was extracted from the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Well Being, a nationally representative cross-sectional survey that interviewed 8,841 Australians aged between 16 and 85 years using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Of the 3,178 participants aged 55-85 years, there were 227 (M = 63.7 years; 65% female) with a lifetime diagnosis of GAD who were the focus of our analyses.
Age at onset was defined as early (<26 years) or late (≥ 26 years), based on the median age at onset for the entire sample. The weighted prevalence estimates for 12-month and lifetime GAD were 2.8% (95% CI: 2.0, 3.7) and 7.0% (95% CI: 5.7, 8.3), respectively, with less than one-tenth of the participants being diagnosed after the age of 60 years. Having the first GAD episode earlier in life was significantly associated with physical abuse during childhood (OR = 0.34, 95% CI: 0.16, 0.75), lifetime diagnosis of dysthymia (OR = 0.34, 95% CI: 0.18, 0.67), and number of GAD episodes (OR = 0.29, 95% CI: 0.14, 0.58), after adjusting for current age and 12-month GAD.
In older adults, an earlier age at onset of GAD was associated with childhood physical abuse and worse clinical outcomes, thus appearing to be a marker for increased vulnerability to GAD.

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    • "Drawing on previous age of onset studies in the anxiety disorders literature (e.g. Segui et al., 2000; Dalrymple and Zimmerman, 2011; Gonçalves and Byrne, 2012), we hypothesized that early onset AG will be associated with family history of anxiety disorders and increased clinical severity and disability as compared to late onset. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Age of onset is an important epidemiological indicator in characterizing disorders׳ subtypes according to demographic, clinical and psychosocial determinants. While investigated in various psychiatric conditions, age of onset and related characteristics in agoraphobia have yet to be examined. In light of the new diagnostic status in the DSM-5 edition of agoraphobia as independent from panic disorder, research on agoraphobia as a stand-alone disorder is needed. Methods: Admixture analysis was used to determine the best-fitting model for the observed ages at onset of 507 agoraphobia patients participating in the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (age range 18-65). Associations between agoraphobia age of onset and different demographic, clinical and psychosocial determinants were examined using multivariate logistic regression analysis. Results: Admixture analyses identified two distributions of age of onset, with 27 as the cutoff age (≤27; early onset, >27; late onset). Early onset agoraphobia was only independently associated with family history of anxiety disorders (p<0.01) LIMITATIONS: Age of onset was assessed retrospectively, and analyses were based on cross-sectional data. Conclusion: The best distinguishing age of onset cutoff of agoraphobia was found to be 27. Early onset agoraphobia might constitute of a familial subtype. As opposed to other psychiatric disorders, early onset in agoraphobia does not indicate for increased clinical severity and/or disability.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Journal of Affective Disorders
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    • "Epidemiological studies have shown that 40% individuals having experienced childhood maltreatment, whether retrospectively or prospectively ascertained, develop anxiety disorders [17]. An earlier age at onset of GAD is significantly related to maltreatment in childhood [19]. Hence, exploring the underpinnings of the relationship between childhood maltreatment and adolescent onset GAD would be helpful in identifying the potential risk markers for this disease. "
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    ABSTRACT: Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common anxiety disorder that usually begins in adolescence. Childhood maltreatment is highly prevalent and increases the possibility for developing a variety of mental disorders including anxiety disorders. An earlier age at onset of GAD is significantly related to maltreatment in childhood. Exploring the underpinnings of the relationship between childhood maltreatment and adolescent onset GAD would be helpful in identifying the potential risk markers of this condition. Twenty-six adolescents with GAD and 25 healthy controls participated in this study. A childhood trauma questionnaire (CTQ) was introduced to assess childhood maltreatment. All subjects underwent high-resolution structural magnetic resonance scans. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was used to investigate gray matter alterations. Significantly larger gray matter volumes of the right putamen were observed in GAD patients compared to healthy controls. In addition, a significant diagnosis-by-maltreatment interaction effect for the left thalamic gray matter volume was revealed, as shown by larger volumes of the left thalamic gray matter in GAD patients with childhood maltreatment compared with GAD patients without childhood maltreatment as well as with healthy controls with/without childhood maltreatment. A significant positive association between childhood maltreatment and left thalamic gray matter volume was only seen in GAD patients. These findings revealed an increased volume in the subcortical regions in adolescent GAD, and the alterations in the left thalamus might be involved in the association between childhood maltreatment and the occurrence of GAD.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: This article reviews the research into anxiety disorders in adults aged 65 years and older that has been published over the past ten years. The topics covered include: the construct of anxiety and its disorders in this age group; epidemiology, including prevalence, incidence, course, outlook, and risk factors; assessment scales; co-morbidity and differential diagnosis (depression, dementia, physical illness); and management, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological. There has been a significant improvement in our understanding of these disorders in older adults over this period, but evidence to support their treatment and prevention is still quite sparse.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2012 · Reviews in Clinical Gerontology
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