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Original Article
June 2005

Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Dr Kessler; Mss Demler and Walters; and Mr Jin); Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ms Berglund); and Section on Developmental Genetic Epidemiology, National Institute of Mental Health, Rockville, Md (Dr Merikangas).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62(6):593-602. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.593
Abstract

Context  Little is known about lifetime prevalence or age of onset of DSM-IV disorders.

Objective  To estimate lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the recently completed National Comorbidity Survey Replication.

Design and Setting  Nationally representative face-to-face household survey conducted between February 2001 and April 2003 using the fully structured World Health Organization World Mental Health Survey version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.

Participants  Nine thousand two hundred eighty-two English-speaking respondents aged 18 years and older.

Main Outcome Measures  Lifetime DSM-IV anxiety, mood, impulse-control, and substance use disorders.

Results  Lifetime prevalence estimates are as follows: anxiety disorders, 28.8%; mood disorders, 20.8%; impulse-control disorders, 24.8%; substance use disorders, 14.6%; any disorder, 46.4%. Median age of onset is much earlier for anxiety (11 years) and impulse-control (11 years) disorders than for substance use (20 years) and mood (30 years) disorders. Half of all lifetime cases start by age 14 years and three fourths by age 24 years. Later onsets are mostly of comorbid conditions, with estimated lifetime risk of any disorder at age 75 years (50.8%) only slightly higher than observed lifetime prevalence (46.4%). Lifetime prevalence estimates are higher in recent cohorts than in earlier cohorts and have fairly stable intercohort differences across the life course that vary in substantively plausible ways among sociodemographic subgroups.

Conclusions  About half of Americans will meet the criteria for a DSM-IV disorder sometime in their life, with first onset usually in childhood or adolescence. Interventions aimed at prevention or early treatment need to focus on youth.

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