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Jude U. Ohaeri, Abdel W. Awadalla
Med Sci Monit 2012; 18(3): CR160-173
Background: There is controversy about differential meaningfulness between comorbid generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)/ major depressive disorder (MDD), the corresponding “pure” disorders and subthreshold conditions. We compared subjects who met DSM-IVTR criteria of symptoms and functional impairment for comorbid GAD/MDD, versus those with GAD, MDD, subthreshold conditions, and without significant symptoms. The comparison measures were socio-demographics, clinical severity, and quality of life (QOL).
Material/Method: Participants (N=3155: 55.1% female, aged 16–87 yrs) were a general population sample of Kuwaitis who self-completed DSM-IVTR criteria-based questionnaires and the WHOQOL-BREF in 2006/7. We scrutinized the questionnaires and classified them into categories.
Results: Of the 273 GAD and 210 MDD cases, the prevalence of comorbidity among cases with GAD was 30.8%, and 40% among MDD. Of the 398 subthreshold GAD and 194 subthreshold MDD cases, 58 had subthreshold anxiety/depression comorbidity. Comorbid threshold GAD/MDD cases were significantly older, and more likely to be women, divorced and unemployed, compared with GAD and MDD. In all measures, the threshold GAD/MDD comorbidity was the severest condition. There was a monotonic decrease in QOL with increasing anxiety-depression symptoms. For the predictors of subjective QOL, the GAD/MDD comorbidity group differed markedly from the others.
Conclusions: The high prevalence of comorbidity and subthreshold conditions supports the recommendation to assess them routinely, regardless of the primary reason for consultation. Our findings support a dimensional model with comorbid GAD/MDD at the higher end of a continuum, and differing from the “pure” conditions by a later onset and predictors of subjective wellbeing.