Although anxiety disorders appear to occur less frequently in elderly
persons, subsyndromal anxiety and anxiety associated with other medical and
psychiatric disorders are significant sources of morbidity. Theories of
etiology of anxiety range from the psychodynamic to the neurobiologic.
Treatment of anxiety syndromes hinges on a thorough diagnostic evaluation,
with attention to the tendency of older adults to prefer somatic
descriptors and to view psychiatric illness as stigmatizing. The efficacy
of nonpharmacologic treatment strategies such as relaxation training and
psychotherapy for elderly anxious patients has not been well researched,
but these interventions have been reasonably successful with younger adult
populations and avoid the potential for harmful side effects of medication.
Pharmacologic treatment strategies can be effective when used with