The prevalence of comorbid anxiety in schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder


  • Susan J. Cosoff,

  • R. Julian Hafner

Susan J. Cosoff, Staff Specialist Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, Australia, WA Dibden Neuropsychiatry Research Unit, Glenside Hospital, PO Box 17, Eastwood, South Australia 5063, Australia


Objective: The aim of this study to determine the prevalence of anxiety disorders in publically treated psychiatric inpatients with a DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder.

Method: Using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (SCID), 100 consecutive inpatients with a psychotic disorder were examined for the presence or absence of an anxiety disorder. Questionnaire measures of phobias, obsessive–compulsive and general anxiety symptoms were also applied.

Results: The prevalences of social phobia (17%), obsessive–compulsive disorder (13%) and generalised anxiety disorder in schizophrenia were relatively high, as were prevalences of obsessive–compulsive (30%) and panic disorder (15%) in bipolar disorder. The proportion of subjects with an anxiety disorder (43–45%) was almost identical across the three psychoses, with some evidence of gender differences. Although self-ratings of overall psychiatric symptoms were significantly elevated in those with anxiety disorders, hospital admission rates were not.

Conclusions: Almost none of those with anxiety disorders were being treated for them, primarily because the severity of the acute psychotic illness required full diagnostic and therapeutic attention. Patients were generally discharged as soon as their psychotic episode was resolved, with little recognition of the presence of an anxiety disorder. Given that anxiety disorders are relatively responsive to treatment, greater awareness of their comorbidity with psychosis should yield worthwhile clinical benefits.