Predictors of remission from generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder

J Affect Disord. 2017 Jan 15;208:467-474. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.10.042. Epub 2016 Oct 26.


Background: The predictors of onset of major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are well-characterized. However the factors that predict remission from these conditions are less clear, and the study of this area is further complicated by differing definitions of remission.

Methods: Data come from the National Comorbidity Survey - Replication, and analysis was limited to respondents with a lifetime history of GAD (n=621) or MDD (n=1299) assessed by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Predictors of remission included demographic factors, adverse childhood events, family history, and clinical characteristics. Multiple definitions of remission were explored to account for residual symptoms.

Results: Half (54.4%) of respondents with MDD and 41.1% of respondents with GAD experienced full remission. Older age and higher socioeconomic status were positively related to remission in a dose-response manner for both disorders. Adverse childhood experiences and family history of anxious/depressive symptoms were negatively associated with remission from MDD. Comorbid GAD was inversely associated with remission from MDD (Odds ratio (OR): 0.62, 95% Confidence interval (CI): 0.44-0.88), but comorbid MDD did not impact remission from GAD (OR: 0.93, 95% CI: 0.64-1.35). With the exception of the influence of comorbidity, these associations were robust across definitions of remission.

Limitations: Cross-sectional analysis and retrospective recall of onset of MDD/GAD.

Conclusions: Many individuals with MDD or GAD will experience full remission. Some predictors appear to have a general association with remission from both disorders, while others are uniquely associated with remission from MDD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Remission Induction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult