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Curr Opin Pediatr. 2003 Oct;15(5):483-90.

Pharmacologic management of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents.

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University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, New York, USA.



Anxiety disorders constitute a significant problem among children and adolescents, with estimated prevalence of 6 to 10%. Left untreated, anxiety disorders can have major effect on academic, social, and family function, as well as impact on developmental progress. Effective treatment of childhood anxiety disorders with medications may help reduce morbidity and improve functioning and stress management.


There are many reviews, but few studies, that examine the effect of psychotropic medication on anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Most of our understanding comes from extrapolation from literature on adult medication trials. Available data indicate relative effectiveness of serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors in many childhood anxiety disorders, along with minimal side effects and good tolerability. Many other psychotropic medications have been considered and used to manage anxiety, with little data to support in children.


The serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors are considered a first-line pharmacological treatment for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Numerous other psychotropic medications may be considered, alone or in combination. Definitive research is lacking; further research studies are sorely needed to help guide clinical decision making. Because there are few studies of pharmacologic treatment of anxiety in children and adolescents, this article will consider the most current literature and provide an overall summary of the topic.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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