Monday, January 26, 2009

New Use For An Old Antidepressant

While not as popular a pharmaceutical treatment for depression as Prozac, the drug Lexapro has managed to carve out a market share for itself. It has been found to work on some patients that Prozac or other competitors are unable to affect, while some patients will show a reversal of the situation. Like many modern antidepressants, Lexapro alleviates the symptoms of depression by altering the levels of serotonin in the brain, resulting in an improvement in a person's mood. However, like many antidepressants that affect serotonin levels, there is a small possibility that it might have uses outside of being an antidepressant.

A recent study found data that shows that Lexapro might be useful as a means of countering anxiety in the elderly. The drug showed promise in that regard, but it was noted that the effect was “modest” and was not on part with medications made specifically to treat anxiety. The target condition is generalized anxiety disorder, which is not infrequent among older adults, and has been known to cause problems like muscle tension, fatigue, and insomnia. While the drug may not be as effective as other medications geared specifically to combat anxiety disorders, researchers believe that Lexapro has potential use in that market.

The researchers believe the drug has potential because the data showed indications that there may be long-term benefits to the drug. The ones that the drug was initially tested on were found to have better ability for conducting their daily lives, but it was likely that the medications alone was inadequate. While most of the data was found to be understandable, one unexpected benefit was found by the research team: the drug appeared to help in controlling the blood pressure of the patients.

It was quite surprising to discover, as it had never been known to have that sort of effect before. Researchers believe it might have some benefit for those who, like the elderly, deal with both anxiety and some problems with their blood pressure.

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