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Pediatr Clin North Am. 2003 Oct;50(5):1107-38.

Anxiety disorders in the child and teen.

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  • 1Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA 98177, USA.


Several disorders have been reviewed (Table 1). Based upon review of the literature, an algorithm has been developed, supporting the initial use of cognitive behavioral therapy, followed by a psychopharmacology algorithm if treatment is not successful. In this algorithm, severely anxious patients initially may require psychopharmacologic treatment to be able to participate in cognitive behavioral treatment. Nonspecific measures of parent education, general support, and illness education to parents and patients are overarching principles. In this algorithm, the SSRIs are perceived to be first-line interventions, with tricyclic antidepressants and venlafaxine as second-line agents. Buspirone is considered a second- or third-line agent, as are the benzodiazepines. Table 2 reviews psychopharmacologic agents shown to be useful in the management of anxiety disorders in youth. Although much research remains to be done, there is evidence of efficacy of several interventions for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. There is a need for a holistic and comprehensive management plan. Particular attention must be given to specific psychopharmacologic and psychotherapy needs, family matters, abuse issues, freedom from substance abuse, the use of peer support groups, and the encouragement of healthier lifestyle choices such as exercise. A rising number of well-done, large, placebo-controlled studies are providing increased support for medication and psychotherapy to inform evidence-based treatment. There is a need for teamwork and effective communication among team members in addressing pediatric and adolescent anxiety disorders.

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