Personality disorders and coping among anxious older adults

Frederick L. Coolidge, Daniel L. Segal, Julie N. Hook, Sharon Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


This study examined the interrelationships among anxiety, personality disorders, and coping strategies in anxious older adults n = 28; age range = 55-89; mean = 66.0, nonanxious older adults n = 100, age range = 55-79, mean = 64.6, and anxious younger adults n = 132; age range = 17-30; mean = 20.2. Younger participants were college students and older participants were community-based family members of the students or recruits from local senior centers. Participants completed the Coolidge Axis II Inventory, the Coping Orientations to Problems Experienced scale, and the Brief Symptom Inventory. Results indicated that the prevalence of generalized anxiety states was relatively low and similar in both older and younger groups and dependent on measurement scale and criterion. At least one personality disorder was found in 61% of the older persons group; obsessive-compulsive, schizoid, and avoidant were the most frequently assigned personality disorders. Anxious older adults had elevated rates of dependent and avoidant personality disorder compared with nonanxious older adults. Younger anxious persons were found to have significantly greater personality dysfunction compared with older anxious persons. Finally, coping differences existed between older anxious and older nonanxious adults and between older anxious and younger anxious adults. Implications for diagnosis and treatment of anxiety in older adults were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-172
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2000


  • Anxiety
  • Coping
  • Elderly
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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