Researchers from Washington University, St. Louis, have found that a drug commonly used to treat depression can benefit older adults with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
The use of drug escitalopram provided some improvement in symptoms for older adults with generalized anxiety disorder, according to the researchers.
The study led by Eric J. Lenze, MD was conducted on 177 participants age 60 years or older.
They were randomly divided to receive either 10 to 20 mg/d of escitalopram (n = 85) or matching placebo (n = 92) for 12 weeks. Anxiety and other outcomes were measured using a number of assessment tools.
The findings revealed that participants treated with escitalopram showed greater improvement in anxiety symptoms and role functioning, activity limitations and impairments in role and social functioning.
However, overall benefits were diminished because of non-adherence to the drug by some patients.
It led to adverse effects like fatigue or sleepiness, sleep disturbance and urinary symptoms.
"The lack of efficacy of escitalopram in the analysis is consistent with its overall modest efficacy, diminished further by nonadherence," said the authors.
"Given that patients with anxiety disorders are often poorly adherent to pharmacotherapy, these negative results may more accurately portray the results of treatment in clinical settings.
"It is important for clinicians to emphasize to their anxious older patients the need for an adequate trial in which to observe any benefits, as well as the expectation and nature of adverse effects.
"Further study is required to assess efficacy and safety over longer treatment durations," they added.