The age of onset of anxiety disorders

Jeroen S. Legerstee*, Bram Dierckx, Elisabeth M.W.J. Utens, Frank C. Verhulst, Carola Zieldorff, Gwen C. Dieleman, Jasmijn M. de Lijster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

3 Citations (Scopus)


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Age of Onset of Mental Disorders pp 125–147Cite as

The Age of Onset of Anxiety Disorders
Jeroen S. Legerstee, Bram Dierckx, Elisabeth M. W. J. Utens, Frank C. Verhulst, Carola Zieldorff, Gwen C. Dieleman & Jasmijn M. de Lijster
First Online: 12 November 2018
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Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent and debilitating psychiatric conditions, which often remain unrecognised and untreated. However, left untreated, anxiety disorders often persist and can contribute to the development of other psychiatric disorders. Therefore, early detection and subsequent intervention are important. Information on the age of onset (AOO) of anxiety disorders could be informative for the timing of prevention strategies.

The aim of this chapter is to review and quantitatively synthesise previous findings on the AOO of anxiety disorders. We extended data of a previous meta-analysis of our research group (de Lijster et al. 2017) with a literature search of studies published between October 2014 and June 2017.

Anxiety disorders in general were found to have their mean onset at 21 years, which is earlier than the average onset of mood disorders and substance use disorders. However, the age period in which anxiety disorders develops is relatively broad. Separation anxiety disorder, specific phobia and social phobia have their onset in childhood and adolescence, whereas agoraphobia, obsessive–compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder have their onset in early adulthood. Generalised anxiety disorder had the latest mean onset at almost 35 years.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAge of Onset of Mental Disorders
Subtitle of host publicationEtiopathogenetic and Treatment Implications
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783319726199
ISBN (Print)9783319726182
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2018


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