Medical conditions and depressive, anxiety, and somatic symptoms in older adults with and without generalized anxiety disorder

Julie Loebach Wetherell, Catherine R. Ayers, Roberto Nuevo, Murray B. Stein, Joe Ramsdell, Thomas L. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to examine medical illness and anxiety, depressive, and somatic symptoms in older medical patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

METHOD: A case-control study was designed and conducted in the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Geriatrics Clinics. A total of fifty-four older medical patients with GAD and 54 matched controls participated.

MEASUREMENTS: The measurements used for this study include: Brief Symptom Inventory-18, Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview, and the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule.

RESULTS: Older medical patients with GAD reported higher levels of somatic symptoms, anxiety, and depression than other older adults, as well as higher rates of diabetes and gastrointestinal conditions. In a multivariate model that included somatic symptoms, medical conditions, and depressive and anxiety symptoms, anxiety symptoms were the only significant predictors of GAD.

CONCLUSION: These results suggest first, that older medical patients with GAD do not primarily express distress as somatic symptoms; second, that anxiety symptoms in geriatric patients should not be discounted as a byproduct of medical illness or depression; and third, that older adults with diabetes and gastrointestinal conditions may benefit from screening for anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-768
Number of pages5
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number6
Early online date14 Jul 2010
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Aging & Mental Health on 14 July 2010, available online at:


  • somatosensory disorders
  • anxiety disorders
  • California
  • depression
  • psychological interview
  • health status


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