In Search of Mixed Anxiety-Depressive Disorder

A Primary Care Study

Published in: Depression and Anxiety, v. 23, no. 4, Mar. 2006, p. 183-189

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by Adrienne Means-Christensen, Cathy D. Sherbourne, Peter Roy-Byrne, Martin C. Schulman, Jennifer Wu, David C. Dugdale, Daniel Lessler, Murray Stein

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The diagnosis of mixed anxiety-depressive disorder, as proposed in DSM-IV, is intended to be useful in settings such as primary care, where low-level anxiety and depressive symptoms may cause clinically significant impairment but are undiagnosable using current criteria. Evidence of the prevalence of this diagnosis is, however, lacking, particularly since the publication of the proposed diagnostic criteria in DSM-IV. Our study examined symptoms of anxiety and depression in 65 primary care patients screened for anxiety and depression while visiting their doctor. Results indicated that of the 37 patients without a diagnosable anxiety or depressive disorder, none had symptoms of depression and anxiety accompanied by interference that the patient deemed significant and attributable to his or her symptoms. These data dispute the need for a mixed anxiety-depression category (beyond mood and anxiety syndromes currently in DSM-IV) in future editions of the DSM.

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