Age at onset and latency to treatment (duration of untreated illness) in patients with mood and anxiety disorders: a naturalistic study


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Abstract

This study was designed to investigate and compare demographic and clinical features with specific emphasis on age at onset, age at first treatment and, in particular, on duration of untreated illness (DUI), in patients with different mood and anxiety disorders. Study sample included 729 outpatients with the following diagnoses: major depressive disorder (n=181), bipolar disorder type I (BD I, n=115) and II (BD II, n=186), generalized anxiety disorder (n=100), panic disorder (n=96), and obsessive–compulsive disorder (n=51). Main demographic and clinical variables of the sample were compared among the diagnostic groups using one-way analysis of variance or χ2 tests. The diagnostic groups showed significant differences in relation to age at onset and age at first pharmacological treatment and in relation to latency to treatment. In particular, patients with major depressive disorder showed the shortest DUI (39.08 months), whereas patient with BD II showed the longest DUI (97.2 months) in comparison with the other groups. Within the group with anxiety disorders (F=7.512, P<0.001), patients with panic disorder showed the shortest DUI (44.35 months), whereas patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder showed the longest DUI (90.57 months). The present findings suggest that patients with different mood and anxiety disorders show significant differences in terms of age at onset, age at first treatment and, consequently, DUI, which potentially reflect different reasons influencing treatment delay.

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