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Disorder-specific cognitive profiles in major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder

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      BackgroundThis investigation examines differences in cognitive profiles in subjects with major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).MethodsData were used from subjects with current MDD (n = 655), GAD (n = 107) and comorbid MDD/GAD (n = 266) diagnosis from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA). The Composite Interview Diagnostic Instrument was used to diagnose MDD and GAD. Cognitive profiles were measured using the Leiden Index of Depression Sensitivity, the Anxiety Sensitivity Index, and the Penn State Worry Questionnaire.ResultsResults showed that differences in cognitive profiles between single MDD and single GAD subjects were present: scores on hopelessness/suicidality and rumination were significantly higher in MDD than GAD, whereas anxiety sensitivity for physical concerns and pathological worry were higher in GAD than MDD. The cognitive profile of comorbid MDD/GAD showed more extreme depression cognitions compared to single disorders, and a similar anxiety profile compared to single GAD subjects.ConclusionsDespite the commonalities in cognitive profiles in MDD and GAD, there are differences suggesting that MDD and GAD have disorder-specific cognitive profiles. Findings of this investigation give support for models like the cognitive content-specificity model and the tripartite model and could provide useful handles for treatment focus.

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      Most cited references 63

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      Little is known about the general population prevalence or severity of DSM-IV mental disorders. To estimate 12-month prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of DSM-IV anxiety, mood, impulse control, and substance disorders in the recently completed US National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Nationally representative face-to-face household survey conducted between February 2001 and April 2003 using a fully structured diagnostic interview, the World Health Organization World Mental Health Survey Initiative version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Nine thousand two hundred eighty-two English-speaking respondents 18 years and older. Twelve-month DSM-IV disorders. Twelve-month prevalence estimates were anxiety, 18.1%; mood, 9.5%; impulse control, 8.9%; substance, 3.8%; and any disorder, 26.2%. Of 12-month cases, 22.3% were classified as serious; 37.3%, moderate; and 40.4%, mild. Fifty-five percent carried only a single diagnosis; 22%, 2 diagnoses; and 23%, 3 or more diagnoses. Latent class analysis detected 7 multivariate disorder classes, including 3 highly comorbid classes representing 7% of the population. Although mental disorders are widespread, serious cases are concentrated among a relatively small proportion of cases with high comorbidity.
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        We review psychometric and other evidence relevant to mixed anxiety-depression. Properties of anxiety and depression measures, including the convergent and discriminant validity of self- and clinical ratings, and interrater reliability, are examined in patient and normal samples. Results suggest that anxiety and depression can be reliably and validly assessed; moreover, although these disorders share a substantial component of general affective distress, they can be differentiated on the basis of factors specific to each syndrome. We also review evidence for these specific factors, examining the influence of context and scale content on ratings, factor analytic studies, and the role of low positive affect in depression. With these data, we argue for a tripartite structure consisting of general distress, physiological hyperarousal (specific anxiety), and anhedonia (specific depression), and we propose a diagnosis of mixed anxiety-depression.
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          Several studies have shown that people who engage in ruminative responses to depressive symptoms have higher levels of depressive symptoms over time, after accounting for baseline levels of depressive symptoms. The analyses reported here showed that rumination also predicted depressive disorders, including new onsets of depressive episodes. Rumination predicted chronicity of depressive disorders before accounting for the effects of baseline depressive symptoms but not after accounting for the effects of baseline depressive symptoms. Rumination also predicted anxiety symptoms and may be particularly characteristic of people with mixed anxiety/depressive symptoms.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Department of Psychiatry, Pro Persona Mental Health Care, Willy Brandtlaan 20, Ede 6717 RR, The Netherlands
            [2 ]Department of Psychiatry, VU University Amsterdam, A.J. Ernststraat 887, Amsterdam 1081 HL, The Netherlands
            [3 ]Pro Persona Mental Health Care, Radboud University Nijmegen, Reinier Postlaan 6, 6525 GC Nijmegen, The Netherlands
            [4 ]Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, Da Costakade 45, Utrecht 3521 VS, The Netherlands
            [5 ]Department of Psychiatry, Leiden University Medical Center, Albinusdreef 2, Leiden 2333 ZA, The Netherlands
            [6 ]Department of Psychiatry, University Medical Center Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, Groningen 9713 GZ, The Netherlands
            BMC Psychiatry
            BMC Psychiatry
            BMC Psychiatry
            BioMed Central
            1 April 2014
            : 14
            : 96
            Copyright © 2014 Hendriks et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.

            Research Article


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