Anxiety and depression in the elderly: A replication and extension of the tripartite model of anxiety and depression

Date of Completion

January 2000


Gerontology|Psychology, Clinical




The tripartite model proposed by Clark and Watson (1991) is an attempt to re-conceptualize anxious and depressive symptoms into three more easily differentiated and clinically useful subtypes: (a) nonspecific, overlapping symptoms of general distress; (b) specific anxious symptoms reflecting physiological hyperarousal and somatic tension; and (c) specific depressive symptoms characterized by the presence of anhedonia and the lack of positive affect. Research conducted to date supports the tripartite model of anxiety and depression in younger populations. The purpose of the present study was to expand previous investigations to assess the utility of the model with respect to anxious and depressive symptomotology in adults aged 65 years and older. ^ Analyses of data collected using both self-report and observer-rated measures offer further support for the tripartite structure. Results indicate, however, that several refinements may be necessary to better address issues related to advanced age, medical status, and medications. Specifically, when assessing older populations, special consideration should be given to somatic symptoms as they relate to anxious and depressive symptomotology. ^