McLean Hospital depression research facility: early-onset phobic disorders and adult-onset major depression

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Adult; Age of Onset; Aged; Anxiety Disorders; Cohort Studies; Depressive Disorder; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Phobic Disorders; Prevalence; Risk Factors; United States




BACKGROUND: This study explores the temporal relationship between anxiety and major depressive disorders in a cohort of patients with current major depression.

METHOD: Current prevalence and lifetime history of specific anxiety disorders were assessed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R Diagnosis (SCID-P) in 85 patients with DSM-III-R major depression. Consensus DSM-III-R diagnoses were assigned by at least two psychiatrists or psychologists.

RESULTS: Twenty-nine per cent met criteria for at least one current anxiety disorder and 34% had at least one anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. The mean (s.d.) age of onset of anxiety disorder in the depressed patients with comorbid social or simple phobia (15 (9) years) was significantly younger than was that of their major depression (25 (9) years). In contrast, the mean (s.d.) age of onset of anxiety in patients with comorbid panic or OCD (20 (8) years) was similar to that seen for their major depression (21 (9) years). In patients with major depression with comorbid anxiety disorders, both the social phobia (10 of 13) and simple phobia (4 of 4) were more commonly reported to start at least two years prior to their major depression in contrast to depressives with comorbid panic (3 of 10 subjects)-Fisher's exact test, P = 0.01.

CONCLUSIONS: Early-onset social and simple phobias appear to be risk factors for later onset of major depression.


Br J Psychiatry Suppl. 1998;(34):29-34.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The British journal of psychiatry. Supplement

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