Background: Previous research has identified a high rate of anxiety disorders comorbidity in patients with a primary mood disorder diagnosis. Discrepancies between studies in the comorbidity prevalence of specific anxiety disorders in mood disorders, and of anxiety disorders comorbidity between unipolar depression and bipolar mood disorder are in part due to differences in sampling and diagnostic assessment methodology.
Method: The authors reviewed the charts of 138 patients who received the SCID-P for DSM-III on enrollment in a Mood Disorders Clinic during the period 1982 through 1988. The comorbidity of specific DSM-III Anxiety Disorders with specific mood disorders was determined and comparatively examined using non-parametric statistics.
Results: There was high overall comorbidity of anxiety disorders that did not differ between bipolar and unipolar subjects. There were no differences in the comorbidity of individual anxiety disorder diagnoses in the unipolar vs. bipolar groups. However, in unipolar patients with, compared to those without an additional diagnosis of dysthymia, there was greater overall anxiety disorders comorbidity, with a particularly high prevalence of generalized anxiety disorder.
Limitation: The subgroup of patients with bipolar I disorder was relatively small (N=8).
Conclusion: Mood and anxiety disorders comorbidity is complex and presents a continuing challenge for both clinicians and researchers.