Age related differences in symptom networks of overall psychological functioning in a sample of patients diagnosed with anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, or posttraumatic stress disorder

Melissa G. Guineau*, Nessa Ikani, Bea Tiemens, Richard Oude Voshaar, Marjolein Fokkema, Gert Jan Hendriks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Downloads (Pure)


Anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are among the most prevalent mental disorders across the lifespan. Yet, it has been suggested that there are phenomenological differences and differences in treatment outcomes between younger and older adults. There is, however, no consensus about the age that differentiates younger adults from older adults. As such, studies use different cut-off ages that are not well founded theoretically nor empirically. Network tree analysis was used to identify at what age adults differed in their symptom network of psychological functioning in a sample of Dutch patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders, OCD, or PTSD (N = 27,386). The networktree algorithm found a first optimal split at age 30 and a second split at age 50. Results suggest that differences in symptom networks emerge around 30 and 50 years of age, but that the core symptoms related to anxiety remain stable across age. If our results will be replicated in future studies, our study may suggest using the age split of 30 or 50 years in studies that aim to investigate differences across the lifespan. In addition, our study may suggest that age-related central symptoms are an important focus during treatment monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102793
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2023


  • Age
  • Anxiety
  • Network analysis
  • OCD
  • PTSD

Cite this