Background: Various studies find relationships among anxiety and depressive disorders of adolescence and adulthood. This study prospectively examines the magnitude of longitudinal associations between adolescent and adult anxiety or depressive disorders.
Methods: An epidemiologically selected sample of 776 young people living in upstate New York received DSM-based psychiatric assessments in 1983, 1985, and 1992 using structured interviews. The magnitude of the association between adolescent and adult anxiety or depressive disorders was quantified using odds ratios generated from logistic regression analyses and from a set of latent Markov analyses. We focus on longitudinal associations among narrowly defined DSM anxiety or depressive disorders.
Results: In simple logistic models, adolescent anxiety or depressive disorders predicted an approximate 2- to 3-fold increased risk for adulthood anxiety or depressive disorders. There was evidence of specificity in the course of simple and social phobia but less specificity in the course of other disorders. Results from the analyses using latent variables suggested that while most adolescent disorders were no longer present in young adulthood, most adult disorders were preceded by adolescent disorders.
Conclusions: An anxiety or depressive disorder during adolescence confers a strong risk for recurrent anxiety or depressive disorders during early adulthood. Most anxiety and depressive disorders in young adults may be preceded by anxiety or depression in adolescence.