Objective: This study examined associations between the extent of anxiety disorder in adolescence (14-16 years) and young people's later risks of a range of mental health, educational, and social role outcomes (16-21 years).
Method: Data were gathered over the course of a 21-year longitudinal study of a birth cohort of 1,265 New Zealand children. Measures collected included (1) an assessment of DSM-III-R anxiety disorders between the ages of 14 and 16 years; (2) assessments of mental health, educational achievement, and social functioning between the ages of 16 and 21 years; and (3) measures of potentially confounding social, family, and individual factors.
Results: Significant linear associations were found between the number of anxiety disorders reported in adolescence and later risks of anxiety disorder; major depression; nicotine, alcohol, and illicit drug dependence; suicidal behavior; educational underachievement; and early parenthood. Associations between the extent of adolescent anxiety disorder and later risks of anxiety disorder, depression, illicit drug dependence, and failure to attend university were shown to persist after statistical control for the confounding effects of sociofamilial and individual factors.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that adolescents with anxiety disorders are at an increased risk of subsequent anxiety, depression, illicit drug dependence, and educational underachievement as young adults. Clinical and research implications are considered.