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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Older Adults Needed to Study Treatments for Worry and Anxiety

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 6, 2011 – To help older adults suffering from increased anxiety or worry, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine are seeking participants for a clinical trial that will study the brain circuits involved in difficult-to-control worrying. The study also will examine how treatment modifies the brain regions involved in worry and anxiety.

All participants must be 60 years or older, experiencing symptoms such as increased anxiety or difficult-to-control worry, irritability, insomnia, difficulties concentrating, being easily fatigued and having increased muscle tension for at least a month.

Up to one in 10 older adults suffer from increased anxiety or difficult-to-control worry, leading to functional impairment and increased visits to the doctor’s office.

“Chronic anxiety takes a toll on both physical and mental health,” notes Carmen Andreescu, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the Pitt School of Medicine and the principal investigator of the study.  “In older adults with generalized anxiety, typical concerns such as worries about medical problems, family and finances are greatly amplified in duration and distress. Our goal is to improve the lives of seniors living with chronic anxiety.”

Participants in the study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, will receive a thorough evaluation for anxiety disorders and other medical conditions, as well as consultation with treatment recommendations. They must agree to undergo a one-hour brain-imaging session during which high-quality images of their brains will be acquired. Additionally, participants may choose to participate in a 12-week treatment trial with the antidepressant drug citalopram. During these 12 weeks, staff will be in contact with the participants weekly by phone.

All these services, including the study medication, are provided free of charge. Participants can earn up to $150 in compensation if all scheduled visits are completed. Compensation for transportation, including bus tickets or parking costs, also will be provided. For additional information, call (412) 648-0859.

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