Translated title of the contribution: The prevalence of anxiety disorders in the elderly

A. W.A. Vermeulen*, A. T.F. Beekman, M. L. Stek, R. Van Dyck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleProfessional


Research regarding the prevalence of anxiety in the community-dwelling elderly is reviewed in this article. One of the most striking findings of the survey data is the diversity of classifications of anxiety and the difference in diagnostic criteria. Consequently there is a large variation in the results. Nevertheless we can conclude that anxiety disorders do exist in the elderly. These disorders are probably the most frequent psychiatric disorder in this age group. Generalised anxiety disorder (1-3.7%) and agoraphobia (0.6-7.8%) are seen relatively frequent. Pure obsessive compulsive disorder (1%) and panic disorder (0.1%) on the contrary are less frequent. The prevalence of anxiety disorders seems lower in the elderly than for middle-aged. This could be explained by cohort-effects or selective drop out. On the other hand it could be due to report bias, 'ageism' assumptions or the possibility that anxiety presents itself differently in old people. There is a high comorbidity with depression and physical illness, which hampers the recognition. Validation of instruments or specially designed scales for the elderly are needed. Moreover attention should be paid in clinical practice for the existence and treatment of anxiety disorders in the elderly. They should benefit by the present effective treatment methods of these disorders as much as the younger adults do.

Translated title of the contributionThe prevalence of anxiety disorders in the elderly
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)657-668
Number of pages12
JournalTijdschrift voor Psychiatrie
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1994

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