The functioning and well-being of patients with unrecognized anxiety disorders and major depressive disorder

J Affect Disord. 1997 Apr;43(2):105-19. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(96)01416-4.


This study examines the degree to which untreated anxiety disorders and major depressive disorder, occurring either singly or in combination, reduce functioning and well-being among primary care patients. Adult patients were screened using the SCL-52 to identify those with clinically significant anxiety symptoms. They also completed the Rand Short-Form (SF-36) to measure self-reported patient functioning and well-being. Patients with untreated disorders were identified using the Q-DIS-III-R to diagnose six DIS-anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), simple phobia, social phobia, panic/agoraphobia, obsessive/compulsive disorder) and major depression. Of 319 patients identified, 137 (43%) had a single disorder and 182 (57%) had multiple disorders. Regression models estimated the relative effects of these disorders on health status (SF-36) by comparing patients with the disorders to patients screened as being not-anxious. Estimates of these effects were consistent with available national norms. The estimated effect of each single disorder on all subscales for physical, social and emotional functioning was negative, often as much as a 20-30 point reduction on this 100-point scale. Major depression had the greatest negative impact, followed by PTSD and panic/ agoraphobia. For patients with multiple disorders, the presence of major depression was associated with the greatest reduction in functioning status. The impact of untreated anxiety disorders and major depressive disorder on functioning was comparable to, or greater than, the effects of medical conditions such as low back pain, arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anxiety Disorders / complications
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / complications
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors