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Cognitive Behavior Therapy Eases Anxiety for Older People
Date:4/7/2009

The technique lessens worries more than usual care, study finds,,,,

TUESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- For older adults, anxiety is an increasingly common problem, and new research suggests that cognitive behavior therapy may help them ease their worries more than standard care does.

Researchers found that people over age 60 who were treated with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) had less worry, fewer depressive symptoms and improved general mental health at the end of the study compared to people who received biweekly telephone calls from their health-care provider.

"This kind of treatment (CBT) can be useful for people who have anxiety, and it can help them learn how to manage it better," said the study's lead author, Melinda Stanley, a professor in the Menninger department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

"Many older adults are not always thrilled with the use of medications for anxiety. Many times, they're already on medications for chronic health conditions, and they may be afraid of side effects. This is a non-medication treatment option," she noted.

The findings were published in the April 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The prevalence of generalized anxiety disorder is estimated to be more than 7 percent in older people living in the community. People who are more anxious later in life have a higher risk of physical disabilities, memory problems, a lower quality of life, increased use of health-care services and death, according to background information in the study.

Medications are often prescribed to treat anxiety disorders. Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, or antidepressants, such as Lexapro and Paxil, are commonly prescribed for people with anxiety, according to the study. But, many people are concerned about the side effects of these medications, particularly benzodiazepines
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