Good treatment outcomes in late-life depression with comorbid anxiety

Eric J. Lenze, Benoit H. Mulsant, Mary Amanda Dew, M. Katherine Shear, Patricia Houck, Bruce G. Pollock, Charles F. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Background: Late-life depression studies have found that comorbid anxiety, as a symptom or comorbid disorder, is associated with poorer treatment response and increased likelihood of dropout. This study evaluated the impact of comorbid anxiety on response, dropouts, and side effects, in elderly subjects treated for depression. Methods: We analyzed data from a 12-week trial comparing nortriptyline and paroxetine in 116 patients aged 60 and older with depression. Subjects classified as having anxious depression were compared to those with nonanxious depression in terms of treatment response rate, time to response, dropout rate, and early side effects. The analysis was replicated with another study, in which 125 subjects aged 69 and older were treated openly with paroxetine and interpersonal psychotherapy. Results: Anxious and nonanxious groups did not differ in terms of response rates, time to response, dropout rates, or time to dropout. Side effects declined more quickly and more significantly in the anxious group than in the nonanxious group. Limitations: Subjects were treated in a specialty mental health setting, and the findings may not apply in other settings. Conclusions: We found no association between comorbid anxiety and a poorer prognosis during acute treatment of late-life depression. For elderly patients with anxious depression, standardized treatment in the mental health sector is associated with a good response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-254
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of affective disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Elderly
  • Side effects
  • Treatment response


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