The prevalence and correlates of adult separation anxiety disorder in an anxiety clinic

Silove, Derrick M.; Marnane, Claire L.; Wagner, Renate; Manicavasagar, Vijaya L.; Rees, Susan
January 2010
BMC Psychiatry;2010, Vol. 10, p21
Academic Journal
Background: Adult separation anxiety disorder (ASAD) has been identified recently, but there is a paucity of data about its prevalence and associated characteristics amongst anxiety patients. This study assessed the prevalence and risk factor profile associated with ASAD in an anxiety clinic. Methods: Clinical psychologists assigned 520 consecutive patients to DSM-IV adult anxiety subcategories using the SCID. We also measured demographic factors and reports of early separation anxiety (the Separation Anxiety Symptom Inventory and a retrospective diagnosis of childhood separation anxiety disorder). Other self-report measures included the Adult Separation Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire (ASA-27), the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scales (DASS-21), personality traits measured by the NEO PI-R and the Work and Social Adjustment Scale. These measures were included in three models examining for overall differences and then by gender: Model 1 compared the conventional SCID anxiety subtypes (excluding PTSD and OCD because of insufficient numbers); Model 2 divided the sample into those with and without ASAD; Model 3 compared those with ASAD with the individual anxiety subtypes in the residual group. Results: Patients with ASAD had elevated early separation anxiety scores but this association was unique in females only. Except for social phobia in relation to some comparisons, those with ASAD recorded more severe symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, higher neuroticism scores, and greater levels of disability. Conclusions: Patients with ASAD attending an anxiety clinic are highly symptomatic and disabled. The findings have implications for the classification, clinical identification and treatment of adult anxiety disorders.


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