Pharmacologic Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in 1989 Versus 1996: Results From the Harvard/Brown Anxiety Disorders Research Program
J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(3):149-152
© Copyright 2014 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
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Objective: This article reports on the
pharmacologic treatment of patients diagnosed with generalized
anxiety disorder (GAD) enrolled in a naturalistic long-term study
of anxiety disorders, with enrollment in 1989 through 1991 and
follow-up in 1996.
Method: 711 patients were enrolled in the study
during 1989-1991. At intake, 167 patients met DSM-III-R criteria
for GAD; at 1996 follow-up, 103 patients met these criteria. The
patients were divided into 3 groups by diagnosis: GAD alone (N =
18 at intake, N = 11 at follow-up), GAD comorbid with another
anxiety disorder (N = 84 at intake, N = 52 at follow-up), and GAD
comorbid with Research Diagnostic Criteria-defined major
depressive disorder, with or without another anxiety disorder (N
= 65 at intake, N = 40 at follow-up). The groups were evaluated
at intake and follow-up on whether they received medication and
the types of medication they received.
Results: Nearly one third of patients in the
1989-1991 sample were not receiving any medication for treatment
of their anxiety disorder; in 1996, 27% of patients still were
receiving no medication. There was a decrease in benzodiazepine
treatment and an increase in antidepressant treatment in 1996 for
GAD patients who did not have comorbid depression or another
Conclusion: The finding of one quarter to one
third of patients with GAD receiving no medication is consistent
with previous observations of undertreatment of depression. The
findings on medication type suggest a shift in the type of
medications being prescribed for treatment of GAD from exclusive
benzodiazepine treatment to the combination of benzodiazepine and