OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to test the validity of
generalized anxiety disorder as an independent diagnostic entity and to
evaluate the prevalence and type of other psychiatric disorders coexisting
with generalized anxiety disorder. Although a few published studies have
addressed the subject, this study presents data from a larger group of
subjects and excludes concurrent major depression as a potential confound.
METHOD: The authors studied patients with a primary diagnosis of
generalized anxiety disorder assigned after evaluation with the Structured
Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R. Patients with a concurrent major
depressive episode were excluded. All diagnoses for which the patient met
criteria were determined, including lifetime occurrence of major depressive
episode and substance use. RESULTS: One hundred nine patients with
generalized anxiety disorder were included in the analysis. Twenty-eight
(26%) of these patients were not given any other lifetime psychiatric
diagnosis. The most prevalent comorbid diagnoses were social phobia (25
[23%] of the patients) and simple phobia (23 [21%] of the patients).
Forty-six (42%) of the patients with generalized anxiety disorder had
experienced at least one major depressive episode during their lifetime.
CONCLUSIONS: These results support previous findings of high rates of
psychiatric comorbidity in generalized anxiety disorder and validate the
usefulness of generalized anxiety disorder as a separate diagnostic