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Anxiety and Depression: Optimizing Treatments

Primary Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2000;2(3):71-79
10.4088/PCC.v02n0301

Properly diagnosing and treating patients with anxiety, depression, or both is a challenging aspect of practicing medicine in the primary care setting. Patients often present with somatic complaints rather than classic psychiatric symptoms. In addition, there is significant overlap between anxiety and depression in this patient population. Comorbid anxiety and depression is often more resistant to pharmacologic treatment, and patients with coexisting disorders have a poorer medical prognosis than do patients with either disorder alone. Fortunately, many new therapies are available to assist the clinician in managing these patients. The newer antidepressants, in particular, are playing an increasingly important role in the treatment of both anxiety disorders alone and comorbid anxiety and depression. These new choices enable our goal of treatment to encompass not only improvement but also sustained complete remission. Of the newer agents, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors have been studied quite extensively in these patient populations. The specific profiles of individual agents may assist the clinician in individualizing treatment. Characteristics such as robust efficacy, speed of onset of activity, the potential for drug-drug interactions, dose response, and tolerability are important considerations in optimizing treatment.