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Outcomes of Late-Life Anxiety Disorders During 32 Weeks of Citalopram Treatment

J Clin Psychiatry 2006;67(3):468-472

Background: Anxiety disorders are common in later life, but little is known about the long-term benefits and risks of pharmacotherapy.

Method: 30 patients aged 60 years and older, with a DSM-IV anxiety disorder, entered a 32-week trial of citalopram. Data gathered at baseline and follow-up included anxiety symptoms using Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety (HAM-A) scores, quality of life using the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form (SF-36), and sleep using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Data analysis consisted of mixed-effect repeated measures models of HAM-A scores and pre-post comparison of SF-36 and PSQI scores.

Results: 30 persons entered treatment; most (27/30) had a primary DSM-IV diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (2 had panic disorder; 1 had posttraumatic stress disorder). Three subjects discontinued study medication due to side effects, 5 were terminated because of nonresponse, and 5 dropped out of the study for other reasons; thus, 17 subjects (57%) completed 32 weeks of treatment. Subjects' HAM-A scores improved significantly, with continuing improvements up until about 20 weeks of treatment. On the basis of a criterion of reduction in HAM-A to < 10 during the trial, 60% (18/30) of subjects were responders. Those who completed the 32-week trial had significant improvements in sleep and quality of life-including social functioning, vitality, mental health, and role difficulties due to emotional problems.

Conclusions: In this 32-week study of citalopram for elderly persons with anxiety disorders, 60% responded. Those who received a full course of treatment experience significant improvements in quality of life and sleep quality.