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J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2005 Jun;18(2):89-96.

Somatic symptoms in late-life anxiety: treatment issues.

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  • 1Intervention Research Center for Late-Life Mood Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, USA.


Understanding and addressing somatic symptoms are complex in older adults, who have more comorbid medical illnesses. This article describes a systematic review of the literature on somatic symptoms in older patients with anxiety disorders. Additionally, the hypothesis was tested that somatic symptoms would respond to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment in 30 anxious patients aged 60 years and older who participated in a 32-week trial of citalopram. The literature review showed few original data articles about somatic symptoms in older patients with anxiety disorders. These articles suggest that such a relationship is common and that treatment of anxiety, or anxious depression, is associated with a reduction in somatic symptoms. In the analysis, citalopram treatment was associated with a significant decrease in several somatic symptoms from pretreatment baseline. It is concluded that somatic symptoms in older adults with anxiety disorders or anxious depression often improve with successful antidepressant treatment. However, additional treatment and integrated approaches are likely to be necessary for many such individuals.

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