Comorbidity of depression and anxiety in the elderly

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Abstract

Elderly patients with depression commonly suffer from concurrent symptoms of anxiety or comorbid anxiety disorders. Such comorbidity is associated with a more severe presentation of depressive illness, including greater suicidality. Additionally, most antidepressant treatment studies of elderly individuals with depression have found poorer treatment outcomes in those with comorbid anxiety, for example, delayed or diminished response and increased likelihood of dropout from treatment. In terms of treatment of anxious depression, there is evidence that tricyclic antidepressants and serotonin reuptake inhibitors are not different from each other in terms of efficacy or tolerability. Rather than the specific choice of antidepressant medication, it appears that quality of clinical management has the greatest impact on likelihood of remission in anxious depressed elderly individuals. Co-prescription of benzodiazepines is sometimes warranted for severe anxiety, but increases the risk of cognitive or motor impairment. Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, which are efficacious for late-life depression in general, should also be considered for treatment alone or in combination with appropriate medication. Future research areas are also addressed in this paper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-67
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent psychiatry reports
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2003
Externally publishedYes

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