The British Journal of Psychiatry


BACKGROUND The prevalence of anxiety disorders in 294 patients who survived to four months in the Perth Community Stroke Study (Perth, Australia), and a follow-up of these patients at 12 months, are presented.

METHOD Diagnoses are described both in the usual DSM hierarchic format and by a non-hierarchic approach. Adoption of the hierarchic approach alone greatly underestimates the prevalence of anxiety disorders.

RESULTS Most cases were of agoraphobia, and the remainder were generalised anxiety disorder. The prevalence of anxiety disorders alone was 5% in men and 19% in women; in community controls, it was 5% in men and 8% in women. Adopting a non-hierarchic approach to diagnosis gave a prevalence of 12% in men and 28% in women. When those who showed evidence of anxiety disorder before stroke were subtracted, the latter prevalence was 9% in men and 20% in women.

CONCLUSION One-third of the men and half of the women with post-stroke anxiety disorders showed evidence of either depression or an anxiety disorder at the time of the stroke. At 12 month follow-up of 49 patients with agoraphobia by a non-hierarchic approach, 51% had recovered, and equal proportions of the remainder had died or still had agoraphobia. The only major difference in outcome between those with anxiety disorder alone and those with comorbid depression was the greater mortality in the latter.