Insomnia in older adults with generalized anxiety disorder

Gretchen A. Brenes, Michael E. Miller, Melinda A. Stanley, Jeff D. Williamson, Mark Knudson, W. Vaughn McCall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES:: The purposes of this study are to determine the frequency and severity of insomnia symptoms and related complaints experienced by older adults with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and compare them with older adults without GAD; compare insomnia symptoms among older adults with GAD with and without comorbid depression; determine if there are age differences in insomnia severity among people with GAD; and determine if there are differences in insomnia severity between older adults with GAD and older adults diagnosed with insomnia. DESIGN:: Cross-sectional. SETTING:: Participants were recruited through primary care clinics, advertisements, and mass mailings. PARTICIPANTS:: One hundred ten older adults; 31 with GAD, 25 with GAD and depression, 33 worried well, and 21 with no psychiatric diagnosis. MEASUREMENTS:: Psychiatric diagnosis, sleep disturbance, and health. RESULTS:: Participants with GAD with and without comorbid depression reported significantly greater sleep disturbance severity than participants with no psychiatric diagnosis and the worried well. There were no differences in sleep disturbances between older adults with GAD only and older adults with comorbid GAD and depression. The severity of sleep disturbance reported by older participants with GAD was greater than reports by young and middle-aged participants with GAD, and comparable with reports by older adults with a diagnosis of insomnia. CONCLUSIONS:: Ninety percent of older adults with GAD report dissatisfaction with sleep and the majority report moderate to severe insomnia. These findings support the assessment of sleep disturbances within the context of late-life GAD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-472
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • GAD
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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