Escitalopram for Persistent Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder After CBT: A Pilot Study

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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and pharmacotherapy are each efficacious for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It is not known, however, whether GAD partial and nonresponders to one treatment modality benefit from the other. This study explored acceptability and efficacy of escitalopram for persons with persistent GAD symptoms after a course of CBT. Twenty-four patients with GAD were treated with CBT and 15 completed at least 12 sessions. Eight completers continued to have clinically significant symptoms and were offered 12 weeks of treatment with escitalopram, and 7 started escitalopram treatment. During CBT, patients evidenced significant improvement in GAD, depression, and quality of life. During escitalopram treatment, patients evidenced trends toward further improvement in GAD, depression, and quality of life. Escitalopram phase completers had initially reported low-to-moderate preferences for medication treatment. Escitalopram may benefit GAD patients with clinically significant symptoms after CBT and merits further study under controlled conditions in a larger sample.

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