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Arch Fam Med. 1997 Jul-Aug;6(4):371-5.

The pharmacologic treatment of anxiety and depression in African Americans. Considerations for the general practitioner.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, Calif, USA.


A growing pool of recent research points to the importance of ethnicity in psychopharmacologic management of depression and anxiety disorders, with sometimes profound implications for efficacy and safety. Such research has provided provocative findings that illustrate important interethnic pharmacogenetic, pharmacokinetic, and pharmacodynamic differences, especially for African Americans. We did a systematic literature review of psychopharmacologic treatment considerations among African Americans with anxiety and mood disturbance seen by primary care physicians, who provide most psychopharmacologic treatment. The findings commonly point to a greater percentage of "poor metabolizers" among African Americans compared with Euro-Americans. General treatment considerations include greater attention to adverse effects and better clinical response and poorer compliance for a given dose, potential need for lower starting doses and slower increases, use of plasma drug levels if available, determination of past responses to a similar drug, and integration of pharmacogenetic information into an overall socioculturally and ethnically sensitive approach to assessment and treatment.

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