Subsyndromal ("Mixed") anxiety-depression in primary care

Peter Roy-Byrne*, Wayne Katon, W. Eugene Broadhead, Jean Pierre Lepine, Jeff Richards, Phillip J. Brantley, Joan Russo, Richard Zinbarg, David Barlow, Michael Liebowitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine in primary care settings the prevalence, clinical characteristics, and functional status of patients who have anxious and depressive symptoms who did not meet diagnostic criteria for major mood and anxiety diagnoses. Design: Patients were screened with the General Health Questionnaire and interviewed if they exceeded the cutoff score of 5. Also, one patient whose score was below the cutoff was interviewed for every two patients whose scores were above the cutoff. Setting: Five primary care sites in the United States, France, and Australia. Patient: Two hundred sixty-seven patients presenting to their primary care physicians for general medical care and follow-up. Methods: Structured diagnostic interviews were conducted and ratings of anxiety, depression, and functional impairment were obtained by trained interviewers. Results: After adjustments for sampling, 5% of the patients had symptoms of anxiety, depression, and functional impairment, without meeting formal criteria for a major DSM-III-R mood or anxiety disorder. This was comparable to the prevalence of diagnosable DSM-III-R mood disorders but only one-fourth the prevalence of diagnosable anxiety disorders. These patients who had subsyndromal symptoms had rates of lifetime psychiatric disorders and prior psychiatric treatment comparable to those of patients meeting criteria for major mood and anxiety disorders. Conclusion: The comparable rates of symptomatic distress, functional impairment, and prior psychiatric illness and treatment suggest that patients with subsyndromal anxiety and depressive symptoms warrant clinical recognition and possibly specific treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-512
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 1994


  • anxiety
  • depression
  • mood disorders
  • primary care
  • subsyndromal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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