Late-Life Generalized Anxiety Disorder Patients Benefit from Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common demon for older adults and for those suffering with the condition, there is often an increase in physical disability, memory difficulties and a decreased quality of life.

Now, Science Daily has reported that older adults with GAD who receive cognitive behavior therapy showed greater improvement on measures of worry, depression and mental health compared with those who receive usual care.

While some patients rely on medication to treat GAD, there have been some adverse affects including falls, hip fractures and memory problems that have limited the usefulness of these drugs. Studies now suggest that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) in primary care for late-life GAD may by more effective and perceived as safer by both patients and providers.

Melinda A. Stanley, Ph.D., of the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, along with colleagues, examined whether CBT would improve outcomes compared to enhanced usual care (EUC). Researchers measured levels of anxiety, worry, depression and physical/mental health quality of life.

When compared with EUC, CBT significantly improved worry severity, depressive symptoms and general mental health. At the same time, in intention-to-treat analyses, response rates defined according to the severity of worry were higher following CBT as compared with EUC at three months.

Researchers concluded from this study that CBT can be useful for managing worry and those associated symptoms among older patients in primary care. More research is necessary to establish parameters and proper treatment plans, yet these results could prove promising for those suffering with late-life GAD.

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