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J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2006 Feb-Apr;16(1-2):171-9.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor use in the treatment of the pediatric non-obsessive-compulsive disorder anxiety disorders.

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  • 1Sheppard-Enoch Pratt Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.


The non-OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) anxiety disorders in the pediatric population- separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social phobia and others- are arguably the most common psychiatric disorders in this age group. Anxiety disorders, in addition to being common, also significantly impair the affected child at home, school, and with peers. A small developing evidence base suggests the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the pharmacological treatment of choice for pediatric non-OCD anxiety disorders. In clinical trials, SSRIs are often very effective in reducing symptoms and improving functioning and generally well tolerated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) review of the safety of antidepressants in the pediatric population suggest a small, but significant, increased relative risk for suicidality adverse events on antidepressant versus placebo. Despite the apparent increased risk, the larger magnitude of benefit of the SSRIs for pediatric non-OCD anxiety disorders compared to depression suggests the benefit/risk ratio for anxiety disorders is more favorable than that for depression. This paper will review available studies on the treatment of non-OCD childhood anxiety disorders with antidepressants, including the SSRIs, and discuss pertinent safety issues.

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