Symptom checklist syndromes in the general population. Correlations with psychotherapeutic drug use.
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Using symptom checklists administered on a large scale by survey interviewers in the 1979 National Survey of Psychotherapeutic Drug Use, we developed a method for classifying survey respondents by syndromes. These syndromes had symptoms and other characteristics consistent with their DSM-III diagnostic counterparts and showed one-year prevalence rates in accord with available epidemiologic data: Major Depression, 5.1%; Agoraphobia-Panic, 1.2%; Other Phobia, 2.3%; and Generalized Anxiety, 6.4%. However, the anxiety-related syndromes occurred less frequently than clinical lore might suggest. The data showed a very low rate of antidepressant use and a higher rate of antianxiety agent use among Major Depressives (11% and 23%) and Agoraphobics (8% and 55%). Also noteworthy were the infrequent use of antianxiety agents among respondents with Generalized Anxiety (27%) and the low frequency of both antianxiety (19%) and antidepressant (3%) drug use among persons with high distress who did not qualify for any syndrome. These findings suggest that the majority of persons with serious psychiatric disorders still do not receive treatment or the most appropriate treatment.