Study Indicates Patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder May Be More Likely to have Family Members with Anxiety Problems

Study indicates patients with GAD may be more likely to have family members with anxiety problems.

MedWire (7/31, Davenport) reported, "Patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are more likely than healthy individuals to have family members with anxiety problems," according to a study published in the May 28 online edition of the Journal of Clinical Psychology. Researchers from Yale University examined "151 GAD patients and 76 healthy controls participating in two treatment-outcome investigations." Subjects "were administered the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule-Revised." In addition, "participants were asked" during an interview "to report the psychologic[al] problems of immediate family members." The investigators found that "[a]nxiety problems among relatives were reported by 53.0 percent of GAD patients." For controls, the "corresponding percentage" was 30.3 percent. And, "[w]hile GAD was associated with a significantly higher frequency of familial anxiety disorders than in controls,…there was no association between gender and psychologic[al] problems."

        Research suggests psychiatric diagnoses, symptom severity may be increased by stress events early in life. MedWire (7/31, Davenport) reported that "[s]tress-sensitive periods during childhood development increase the risk for psychiatric diagnoses and symptom severity," according to a study published in the journal BMC Psychiatry. Researchers from Germany’s University of Konstanz examined "39 patients with major depressive disorder, 32 with schizophrenia, 15 with drug abuse, and 10 with personality disorder, along with 31 healthy controls. The participants were administered, among others, the Early Trauma Inventory, the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, and the General Assessment of Functioning Scale." The researchers found that "[p]atients had significantly higher scores than controls for early life stress events, pre-pubertal stress events, overall traumatic experiences, and prenatal stress." In fact, "patients reported significantly more emotional neglect, violence in families during childhood and adolescence, and separation from their biologic mother for at least three months before puberty than controls." And, "patients with high stress loads had significantly more pronounced affective symptoms."