Duration of anxiety disorder and its associated risk indicators: Results of a longitudinal study of the general population

Margreet ten Have, Marlous Tuithof, Saskia van Dorsselaer, Marloes Kleinjan, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx, Neeltje M. Batelaan, Ron de Graaf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Data on episode duration of anxiety disorders are required for informing patients and for disease management, but such data from population studies are lacking. Methods: Three-year longitudinal data were used from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2, a psychiatric epidemiological cohort study among the general adult population (N = 6646). Respondents with a new (first or recurrent) anxiety disorder were selected (n = 158). DSM-IV diagnoses were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview; the Life Chart Interview assessed episode duration and recovery rates. Results: Among those with anxiety disorder, median episode duration was 7.5 months and mean duration was 15.2 months. 38.8% had not recovered at 12 months and 30.1% not at 36 months. Longer duration was associated with older age, not having a paid job, higher neuroticism, more physical disorders, and worse physical functioning. Conclusions: Also, in the general population, anxiety disorder has a rather chronic course. After 12 months the cumulative recovery rate flattened. To prevent and manage chronicity, timely treatment, and chronic disease management are required. The risk indicators found may help to identify individuals with an anxiety disorder at risk for chronicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-336
Number of pages9
JournalDepression and anxiety
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • anxiety disorder
  • new episode
  • population surveys
  • risk factors

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