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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2003 May-Jun;11(3):320-7.

Treatment of poststroke generalized anxiety disorder comorbid with poststroke depression: merged analysis of nortriptyline trials.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa College of Medicine, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.



The existence of anxiety disorders plays an important role in the prognosis and associated impairment among patients with poststroke depression. The authors examined the efficacy of nortriptyline treatment for patients with comorbid generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and depression after stroke.


Data from three studies were merged to provide 27 patients with comorbid GAD and depression, who participated in double-blind treatment studies comparing nortriptyline (N=13) and placebo (N=14). Severity of anxiety was measured with the Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety (Ham-A), and severity of depression was measured with the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (Ham-D). Activities of daily living were assessed by use of the Johns Hopkins Functioning Inventory (JHFI).


There were no significant differences between the nortriptyline and placebo groups in demographic characteristics, stroke type, and neurological findings. Patients receiving nortriptyline treatment showed significantly greater improvement on the Ham-A, Ham-D, and JHFI than patients receiving placebo. The anxiety symptoms showed earlier improvement than depressive symptoms in patients treated with nortriptyline.


These findings suggest that poststroke GAD comorbid with poststroke depression may be effectively treated with nortriptyline, and data indicate the need for a trial specifically designed to examine treatment of anxiety disorder.

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