The goals of this study were to analyse the characteristics of the phenomenon of worry in old age, to analyse differential characteristics of worry in the elderly according to severity of anxiety, and to explore the discriminative ability of different DSM-IV criteria for generalized anxiety disorder ( GAD) to reveal the presence of this disorder. Starting from a randomized sample of 97 individuals, those 85 representing three levels of severity of the anxiety were retained: 74 non-clinical, four with sub-threshold anxiety and seven with GAD. They were assessed with different variables typically considered to be relevant for the analysis and characterization of worry. Results indicate that the most remarkable differences in contents of worry as a function of severity of anxiety occurred in the domains of worries about health and personal worries. Furthermore, elderly people with high levels of anxiety worry more frequently, and about more issues, and perceive less control over their worrying. Significant differences between groups in past and present orientation of worry were found. Worries were more frequent in GAD and they were oriented mainly towards the present and minor everyday problems in both GAD and nonclinical people. Moreover, worry about minor things together with the extent to which worry interferes in daily life were the best discriminant variables for GAD, being better than the core DSM-IV GAD criteria. We conclude that this pattern of results suggests that the potential of a specific worry to affect daily well-being and quality of life is strongly related to the presence of a disorder.
- OLDER ADULTS
- SOCIOEMOTIONAL SELECTIVITY