Children can experience anxiety, sometimes to a debilitating level.
Anxiety over missing their parents, social phobias, or trouble at school, can lead them into therapy. Anxiety affects as many as 20 percent of young people.
But the question has been- what works best? Medication or talk therapy, or just hoping they will grow out of it?
Anne Marie Albano of the New York State Psychiatric Institute tells Reuters, “We are not talking here about normal fears all kids get. We are talking about intractable anxiety and fear to the point that there is such distress that the child shrinks away from the world.”
In this, the largest study of children and adolescents suffering from disabling anxiety, nearly 500 7-to-17 year olds were tracked for several months in treatment.
Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health in the largest study yet of anxiety in children, researchers from six major medical centers divided the children into four groups – one receiving placebos, one receiving Zoloft, another engaging in cognitive therapy for 12 weeks, and a fourth receiving both Zoloft and cognitive therapy.
Talk therapy or cognitive therapy involves teaching children to identify the thoughts that lead to their worries and then somehow moderate with help from the parents.
After three months, 80 percent of the children receiving the combined therapy had measurable improvement.
Talk therapy alone resulted in improvements in 60 percent of participants while the Zoloft group reported a 55 percent improvement.
Less than one quarter of those taking the placebos reported improvement.
Sertraline is the generic name of Pfizer’s Zoloft, is one of a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). That class of drugs has been linked to depressed feelings and thoughts of suicide.
The results are reported in today’s New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and were led by author Dr. John T. Walkup of Johns Hopkins and Dr. Philip C. Kendall of Temple University. #