Treatment of childhood anxiety disorders: what is the place for antidepressants?

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Abstract

Introduction: Anxiety disorders represent one of the most prevalent forms of psychopathology among children and adolescents. As these problems tend to persist and have a negative impact on young people's development, there is a need for evidence-based interventions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is at present the treatment of first choice, but pharmacotherapy and in particular antidepressant medication may be a viable alternative or adjunct to CBT. Areas covered: This paper provides a detailed overview of controlled treatment outcome studies on the efficacy of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin--noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) in children and adolescents with anxiety disorders. Further, a discussion is provided on how clinically anxious youths should be preferably treated, with special focus on the position of pharmacotherapy in the treatment process. Expert opinion: The short-term efficacy of antidepressants in anxious youths is good, and this is particularly true for SSRIs. Therefore, this type of medication should be viewed as a viable treatment option, in particular for youths with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or other severe and pervasive anxiety disorders. More research is needed on the long-term effects, the consequences of prolonged use of this type of medication for children's developing brains and the efficacy of an intervention in which CBT and SSRIs are combined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-64
Number of pages22
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

Keywords

  • anxiety disorders
  • children and adolescents
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • pharmacotherapy
  • COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
  • OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER
  • POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER
  • RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED-TRIAL
  • DOUBLE-BLIND
  • IMIPRAMINE TREATMENT
  • CHILDREN
  • ADOLESCENTS
  • FLUOXETINE
  • SERTRALINE

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