Pharmacological treatment of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: a review for practitioners
Anxiety disorders are common in children and adolescents with reported prevalence rates between 10% and 30%. A combined approach to treatment has been found to be the most effective for optimal outcomes and is typically comprised of psychotherapy (especially exposure-based cognitive behavior therapy), family and patient education, and use of medication if indicated. In children and adolescents who might benefit from use of medications, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the drugs of choice. The safety and efficacy of medications other than SSRIs in the treatment of children and adolescents with anxiety disorders are not fully established. Most children and adolescents respond well to treatment with long lasting resolution of symptoms, although, recurrence of the same, or development of a different type of anxiety disorder, is not uncommon. In most children and adolescents, anxiety disorders tend to persist into adulthood requiring long-term treatment planning. This paper reviews the pharmacological agents used in the treatment of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents.