Duration of untreated illness in a cross-diagnostic sample of obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder

Paula Vigne, Pedro Fortes, Rafaela V. Dias, Luana D. Laurito, Carla P. Loureiro, Gabriela B. De Menezes, Ulrich Stangier, Leonardo F. Fontenelle

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18 Citations (Scopus)


ObjectiveIn this study, we compared duration of untreated illness (DUI) in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder (PD), and social anxiety disorder (SAD) patients and investigated its correlates, both within specific diagnoses and across the whole sample.MethodsEighty-eight patients (33 OCD, 24 SAD, and 31 PD) had their diagnosis confirmed by the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview, were assessed for treatment-seeking variables, and were evaluated with instruments aimed at quantifying transdiagnostic features (i.e., the Cause subscale of the Illness Perception Questionnaire-Mental Health and the Anxiety Sensitivity Index-Revised) and severity of illness (i.e., Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories, the Dimensional Obsessive-Compulsive Scale, the Panic and Agoraphobia Scale, and the Social Phobia Inventory).ResultsThe only differences between groups with short (<2 years) versus long (>2 years) DUI were greater fear of public display of anxiety in the first group and greater social avoidance in the second group. The DUI was significantly different between groups that sought treatment after the onset of illness, with OCD patients having longer DUI than PD patients and shorter DUI than SAD patients. Further, DUI correlated negatively with the perception of OCD being caused by stress and positively with severity of panic-related disability in SAD patients, but not in PD or OCD patients.ConclusionThere was substantial delay in treatment seeking among the anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder patients, particularly those with OCD or SAD. Perception of stress as a cause of OCD prompted treatment seeking, while severity of panic symptoms delayed treatment seeking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-532
Number of pages7
JournalCNS Spectrums
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • Duration of untreated illness
  • help-seeking
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • panic disorder
  • social anxiety disorder

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