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Attaining Remission in Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Venlafaxine Extended Release Comparative Data

David V. Sheehan, MD, MBA

Published: January 5, 2001

Article Abstract

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a chronic mental disorder that is characterized by excessive anxiety or worry. Traditionally, the treatment goal for GAD has been the attainment of a treatment response, clinically defined as a 40% to 50% symptomatic improvement relative to baseline. However, there is growing consensus among clinical psychiatrists that the treatment goal should be remission, a virtually asymptomatic state that corresponds to a score of ≤ 7 on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety (HAM-A) or a ≥ 70% symptomatic improvement from baseline. Venlafaxine extended release (XR), a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, is the first pharmacotherapeutic agent to be indicated for both depression and GAD. This article reviews the efficacy data from several short-and long-term placebo-controlled studies of venlafaxine conducted to evaluate the potential of this agent to facilitate remission. Total scores on the HAM-A and the Clinical Global Impressions scale were used as the primary variables; scores for the HAM-A psychic and somatic anxiety factors and for the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale were used as secondary variables. Venlafaxine XR showed a substantial effect size in the individual HAM-A items of worry, anxiety, and behavior at interview. The pooled analysis of 2 long-term studies indicated that the scores of venlafaxine remitters separated from those of responders by the second month, resulting in an overall increase in remitters. The results of these studies demonstrate the strong potential of venlafaxine XR in facilitating remission in GAD.

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