Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Longitudinal associations between depressive and anxiety disorders: a comparison of two trait models

  • Thomas M. Olino (a1) (a2), Daniel N. Klein (a1) (a2), Peter M. Lewinsohn (a2), Paul Rohde (a2) and John R. Seeley (a2)...

Depression and anxiety are highly co-morbid disorders. Two latent trait models have been proposed to explain the nature of the relationship between these disorders. The first posits that depressive and anxiety disorders are both manifestations of a single internalizing factor. The second model, based on a tripartite model proposed by Clark & Watson [Journal of Abnormal Psychology (1991) 100, 316–336], proposes that depressive and anxiety disorders reflect a combination of shared and disorder-specific factors.


We directly compared the two models in a sample of 891 individuals from the Oregon Adolescent Depression Project who participated in up to four diagnostic assessments over approximately 15 years. Structural equation models were used to examine the relationship between depressive and anxiety disorders across different developmental periods (<14, 14–18, 19–23, 24–30 years of age).


The one- and three-factor models were hierarchically related. Thus, a direct comparison between the one- and three-factor models was possible using a χ2 difference test. The result found that the three-factor model fit the data better than the one-factor model.


The three-factor model, positing that depressive and anxiety disorders were caused by a combination of shared and disorder-specific factors, provided a significantly better fit to the data than the one-factor model postulating that a single factor influences the development of both depressive and anxiety disorders.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: T. M. Olino, M.A., Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500, USA. (Email:
Hide All

Portions of these findings were presented at the Virtual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology, October 2005. The actual meeting was cancelled due to hurricanes.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

DA Barlow , LB Allen , ML Choate (2004). Toward a unified treatment for emotional disorders. Behavior Therapy 35, 205230.

K Belzer , FR Schneier (2004). Comorbidity of anxiety and depressive disorders: issues in conceptualization, assessment, and treatment. Journal of Psychiatric Practice 10, 296306.

PM Bentler (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin 107, 238246.

EU Brady , PC Kendall (1992). Comorbidity of anxiety and depression in children and adolescents. Psychological Bulletin 111, 244255.

TA Brown , LA Campbell , CL Lehman , JR Grisham , RB Mancill (2001). Current and lifetime comorbidity of the DSM-IV anxiety and mood disorders in a large clinical sample. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 110, 585599.

TA Brown , BF Chorpita , DH Barlow (1998). Structural relationships among dimensions of the DSM-IV anxiety and mood disorders and dimensions of negative affect, positive affect, and autonomic arousal. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 107, 179192.

BM Byrne , RJ Shavelson , B Muthén (1989). Testing for the equivalence of factor covariance and mean structures: the issue of partial measurement invariance. Psychological Bulletin 105, 456466.

BF Chorpita , EL Daleiden (2002). Tripartite dimensions of emotion in a child clinical sample: measurement strategies and implications for clinical utility. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 70, 11501160.

LA Clark , D Watson (1991). Tripartite model of anxiety and depression: psychometric evidence and taxonomic implications. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 100, 316336.

LA Clark , D Watson , S Mineka (1994). Temperament, personality, and the mood and anxiety disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 103, 103116.

EJ Costello , S Mustillo , A Erkanli , G Keeler , A Angold (2003). Prevalence and development of psychiatric disorders in childhood and adolescence. Archives of General Psychiatry 60, 837844.

DM Fergusson , LJ Horwood , JM Boden (2006). Structure of internalising symptoms in early adulthood. British Journal of Psychiatry 189, 540546.

DB Flora , PJ Curran (2004). An empirical evaluation of alternative methods of estimation for confirmatory factor analysis with ordinal data. Psychological Methods 9, 466491.

LT Hu , PM Bentler (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indices in covariance structure analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: An Interdisciplinary Journal 6, 155.

Jr. TE Joiner , SJ Catanzaro , J Laurent (1996). Tripartite structure of positive and negative affect, depression, and anxiety in child and adolescent psychiatric inpatients. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 105, 401409.

MB Keller , PW Lavori , B Friedman , E Nielsen , J Endicott , P McDonald-Scott , NC Andreasen (1987). The Longitudinal Interval Follow-up Evaluation. A comprehensive method for assessing outcome in prospective longitudinal studies. Archives of General Psychiatry 44, 540548.

KS Kendler , CA Prescott , J Myers , MC Neale (2003). The structure of genetic and environmental risk factors for common psychiatric and substance use disorders in men and women. Archives of General Psychiatry 60, 929937.

RC Kessler , P Berglund , O Demler , R Jin , KR Merikangas , EE Walters (2005 b). Lifetime prevalence and age of onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry 62, 593602.

HC Kraemer , KA Wilson , C Hayward (2006). Lifetime prevalence and pseudocomorbidity in psychiatric research. Archives of General Psychiatry 63, 604608.

RF Krueger (1999). The structure of common mental disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry 56, 921926.

RF Krueger , A Caspi , TE Moffitt , PA Silva (1998). The structure and stability of common mental disorders (DSM-III-R): a longitudinal-epidemiological study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 107, 216227.

RF Krueger , MS Finger (2001). Using item response theory to understand comorbidity among anxiety and unipolar mood disorders. Psychological Assessment 13, 140151.

BB Lahey , B Applegate , ID Waldman , JD Loft , BL Hankin , J Rick (2004). The structure of child and adolescent psychopathology: generating new hypotheses. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 113, 358385.

PM Lewinsohn , P Rohde , JR Seeley , DN Klein , IH Gotlib (2003). Psychosocial characteristics of young adults who have experienced and recovered from major depressive disorder during adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 112, 353363.

PM Lewinsohn , H Hops , RE Roberts , JR Seeley , JA Andrews (1993). Adolescent psychopathology: I. Prevalence and incidence of depression and other DSM-III-R disorders in high school students. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 102, 133144.

RC MacCullum , MW Browne , HM Sugawara (1996). Power analysis and determination of sample size for covariance structure modeling. Psychological Methods 1, 130149.

HW Marsh , KT Hau , Z Wen (2004). In search of golden rules: comment on hypothesis-testing approaches to setting cutoff values for fit indexes and dangers in overgeneralizing Hu and Bentler's (1999) findings. Structural Equation Modeling: An Interdisciplinary Journal 11, 320341.

KR Merikangas , HP Zhang , S Avenevoli , S Acharyya , M Neuenschwander , J Angst (2003). Longitudinal trajectories of depression and anxiety in a prospective community study: the Zurich Cohort Study. Archives of General Psychiatry 60, 9931000.

S Mineka , D Watson , LA Clark (1998). Comorbidity of anxiety and unipolar mood disorders. Annual Review of Psychology 49, 377412.

FW Nussbeck , M Eid , T Lischetzke (2006). Analysing multitrait-multimethod data with structural equation models for ordinal variables applying the WLSMV estimator: what sample size is needed for valid results? British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology 59, 195213.

H Orvaschel , J Puig-Antich , WJ Chambers , MA Tabrizi , R Johnson (1982). Retrospective assessment of prepubertal major depression with the Kiddie-SADS-E. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 21, 392397.

MA Pentz , CP Chou (1994). Measurement invariance in longitudinal clinical research assuming change from development and intervention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 62, 450462.

P Rohde , PM Lewinsohn , JR Seeley (1997). Comparability of telephone and face-to-face interviews in assessing axis I and II disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry 154, 15931598.

C Sobin , MM Weissman , RB Goldstein , P Adams , P Wickramaratne , V Warner , JD Lish (1993). Diagnostic interviewing for family studies: comparing telephone and face-to-face methods for the diagnosis of lifetime psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric Genetics 3, 227233.

JH Steiger (1989). Structural model evaluation and modification: an Interval estimation approach. Multivariate Behavioral Research 25, 173180.

P Tyrer (2001). The case for cothymia: mixed anxiety and depression as a single diagnosis. British Journal of Psychiatry 179, 191193.

WAM Vollebergh , J Iedema , RV Bijl , R de Graaf , F Smit , J Ormel (2001). The structure and stability of common mental disorders: the NEMESIS Study. Archives of General Psychiatry 58, 597603.

D Watson (2005). Rethinking mood and anxiety disorders: a quantitative hierarchical model for DSM-V. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 114, 522536.

D Watson , LA Clark , K Weber , JS Assenheimer , ME Strauss , RA McCormick (1995). Testing a tripartite model: II. Exploring the symptom structure of anxiety and depression in student, adult, and patient samples. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 104, 1525.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 9 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 93 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 27th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.