'Minor GAD': Characteristics of subsyndromal GAD in older adults


Subsyndromal emotional symptoms are common in older adults and are associated with increased disability, health care utilization, and risk for developing psychiatric disorders. The purpose of this study was to examine subsyndromal generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in older adults. Participants included 30 older adults with diagnosable GAD, 19 with subsyndromal anxiety symptoms [minor GAD; (MGAD)], and 21 normal control volunteers (NC). Participants were assessed using the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for DSM-IV and completed self-report measures of anxiety, worry, depression, and life satisfaction. Excessive worry on more days than not, difficulty controlling worry, and clinically significant distress or impairment were the diagnostic criteria endorsed by MGAD participants least often. Therefore, these criteria may be useful in distinguishing between GAD and subsyndromal GAD. Self-reported anxiety and worry also systematically differed across groups in the expected directions, with a discriminant analysis yielding good classification of the GAD and NC groups based on these measures. Categorization of MGAD participants generally was poor, with most misclassified as GAD patients. Clinical implications of these findings are discussed. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Behaviour Research and Therapy