A time-tested antidepressant sertraline (SSRI) with three month course of psychotherapy significantly minimize children’s anxiety disorders, one of the most common psychiatric illnesses in kids, the largest research of its kind reported.
The research also provides relief to parents worried about, putting their kids on high potency drugs. Therapy alone is quite effective.
Combination of drug sertraline with psychotherapy worked best. But each method alone also had some benefits, said Dr. John Walkup, lead author of the research. It’s estimated that anxiety disorders affect up to 20 percent of U.S. children and teens.
“In many cases, symptoms almost disappeared in children previously so anxious that they wouldn’t leave home, sleep alone, or hang out with friends”, said Walkup, a psychiatrist. “What we’re saying is we’ve got three good treatments,” he said.
Sertraline is member of the SSRI group, associated with suicidal thoughts in children with depression.
In this study, only a few of the more than 200 kids using it had suicide-related thoughts and there were no suicide attempts, Walkup said. Suicidal tendencies are more common in depression than in anxiety, he said.
Zoloft a product of Pfizer is approved for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder in children, but some doctors use it for anxiety as well, however.
Dr. Thomas Insel, the institute’s director, said “the study provides strong evidence that combined treatment is “the gold standard,” but that sertraline or therapy alone can be effective.”