Anxiety disorders among African Americans, blacks of Caribbean descent, and non-Hispanic whites in the United States

J Anxiety Disord. 2009 Jun;23(5):578-90. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2009.01.002. Epub 2009 Jan 15.


The central aim of this study is to estimate prevalence, ages of onset, severity, and associated disability of anxiety disorders among African Americans, Caribbean Blacks, and non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. Results indicated that whites were at elevated risk for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety compared to Caribbean Blacks and African Americans. Black respondents were more likely to meet criteria for PTSD. When African American and Caribbean Black respondents met criteria for an anxiety disorder, they experienced higher levels of overall mental illness severity and functional impairment compared to whites. White respondents were at greater risk to develop generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and panic disorders late in life. Risk of developing PTSD endured throughout the life course for blacks whereas whites rarely developed PTSD after young adulthood. These results can be used to inform targeted interventions to prevent or remediate anxiety disorders among these diverse groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / ethnology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Caribbean Region / ethnology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Disability Evaluation
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / ethnology
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / ethnology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult