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University Of Pittsburgh Conducting Study To Determine Better Treatment For Anxiety Disorder In Older Adults​

PITTSBURGH, March 16, 2005 — Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic are hoping to better understand how generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in seniors can cause physical symptoms, and to learn if an antidepressant is effective for controlling the illness.

“Many seniors and primary care doctors are unaware that physical symptoms such as tension, gastrointestinal distress, fatigue or insomnia, are typically part of anxiety. Older adults seek treatment for the physical complaints without the psychological basis for their problems being managed,” said Eric Lenze, M.D., a geriatric psychiatrist who is assistant professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine. “We are hoping to improve the treatment of GAD using a commonly prescribed and well-tolerated antidepressant medication.”

As many as one in every 10 adults over the age of 60 is known to suffer from GAD. The disorder is generally characterized by chronic worry, anxiety and/or nervousness, but can also extend to include physical ailments such as gastrointestinal distress, pain and fatigue, among others. While GAD is a common disorder, relatively little is known about the effectiveness of treatment options.

The Relief from Anxiety in Older Adults, or RELIEF, study will look at the effects of the antidepressant escitalopram to determine whether the drug will improve anxiety symptoms, quality of life and cognitive function in older adults.

Researchers are recruiting patients age 60 and over who have GAD to participate in the 24-week study. Those who meet the eligibility requirements will receive a full assessment and be randomized for treatment either with escitalopram, or with a placebo for the first 12 weeks. For the remaining 12 weeks, all participants will be treated with escitalopram.

Those who are eligible to participate in the study will receive $100. For those interested in hearing more about the study, please call 412-246-6006 for more information. All calls are confidential.

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