Contemporary Management of Comorbid Anxiety and Depression in Geriatric Patients

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Anxiety and depression in elderly people are major public health problems in the United States. Recognition and treatment of these conditions will likely gain more attention in the next 30 to 50 years because of the projected growth of the geriatric population. As in many younger patients, the most common presentation of anxiety in elderly patients is comorbid anxiety and depression. Although age is not a risk factor for either anxiety or depression, factors associated with aging—such as increased medical burdens and loss of independence—are substantial risk factors for development of these conditions. Moreover, there is a close association in older people between untreated mental illness and exacerbation of physical illness. Some of the newer antidepressants are more appropriate long-term options for the treatment of comorbid anxiety and depression than either benzodiazepines or tricyclic antidepressants. The newer antidepressants can decrease symptoms, improve quality of life, and potentially promote healthier outcomes in geriatric patients who have comorbid anxiety and depression and/or comorbid mental and physical illness.

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(suppl 12):30-35