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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


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
Article number924376300
Pages (from-to)764-768
Number of pages5
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • elderly
  • somatization
  • depression

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