Co-occurrence of anxiety and depressive disorders in a community sample of older people: results from the MRC CFAS (Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study)

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2008 Mar;23(3):229-37. doi: 10.1002/gps.1867.


Background: Few population-based studies have examined the whole range of subthreshold syndromes and disorders of anxiety and depression in older people.

Aims: To investigate the co-occurrence of anxiety and depressive syndromes in older people. Associations between these conditions and personal and environmental factors are examined.

Method: MRC CFAS included 13,004, age 65 years and above, who completed the initial screening interview. A stratified random subsample of 2,640 participated in the assessment interview where the Geriatric Mental State Examination (GMS) was administered. The AGECAT diagnostic system was used to generate subthreshold and disorder-level of anxiety and depression as well as the combination of these into eight syndromes categories plus a group without any of the syndromes categories. Prevalences, unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios are calculated for the syndrome categories in relation to cross-sectional personal and environmental factors, and odds ratios of subthreshold and disorders level are estimated.

Results: The overall prevalence of anxiety and depressive disorders are 3.1% and 9.7% respectively. The overall prevalence of either anxiety or depressive disorder (anxiety disorder with subthreshold depression, mixed anxiety and depressive disorder with subthreshold anxiety) where they overlapped is 8.4%. The highest Odds Ratios unadjusted and adjusted for age and gender, of anxiety and depressive disorders and significant for trend are found for increasing disability. Disability has a strong relationship with all the co-morbid syndrome categories. In all analyses women showed significant higher estimates than men.

Conclusions: Our study demonstrated high estimates where anxiety and depression occurred in parallel both as disorders and as subthreshold syndromes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Wales / epidemiology