Augmenting antidepressant medication with modular CBT for geriatric generalized anxiety disorder: A pilot study

Julie Loebach Wetherell, Jill A. Stoddard, Kamila S. White, Sander Kornblith, Hoang Nguyen, Carmen Andreescu, Sidney Zisook, Eric J. Lenze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a prevalent psychiatric condition in older adults with deleterious effects on health and cognition. Although selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications have some efficacy as acute treatments for geriatric GAD, incomplete response is the most common outcome of monotherapy. We therefore developed a novel sequential treatment strategy, using personalized, modular cognitive-behavioral therapy (mCBT) to augment SSRI medication. Method In an open label pilot study (N=10), subjects received a sequenced trial of 12 weeks of escitalopram followed by 16 weeks of escitalopram augmented with mCBT. We also examined the maintenance effects of mCBT over a 28-week follow-up period following drug discontinuation and termination of psychotherapy. Results Results suggest that (1) adding mCBT to escitalopram significantly reduced anxiety symptoms and pathological worry, resulting in full remission for most patients and (2) some patients maintained response after all treatments were withdrawn. Conclusion Findings suggest that mCBT may be an effective augmentation strategy when added to SSRI medication and provide limited support for the long-term benefit of mCBT after discontinuation of pharmacotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-875
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • aged
  • behavior therapy
  • cognitive therapy
  • drug therapy
  • elderly
  • psychotherapy
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor


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