BACKGROUND: Anxiety in late-life is a frequently encountered condition. The aim of this review is to systematically examine the efficacy and tolerability of antidepressants for treating anxiety disorders among older adults.
METHODS: Electronic searches of The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and the standard bibliographic databases PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO were performed in August 2018 and updated in October 2018 for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating antidepressants for late-life anxiety. The quality of each study was appraised using criteria developed by the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine.
RESULTS: Data from 12 papers describing 10 RCTs of antidepressants for late-life anxiety are included in this review. There were 2 studies each of sertraline, escitalopram, and duloxetine, and 1 study each of citalopram, paroxetine, venlafaxine, and imipramine. Across all trials, antidepressants were associated with a significant reduction in anxiety symptoms at the end of the study period. Limitations of the trials include a preponderance of generalized anxiety disorder and relatively less data on other anxiety disorders, and limited data on long-term use of antidepressants for anxiety.
CONCLUSIONS: Antidepressants are beneficial for treating anxiety disorders in late life and are generally well tolerated.