Psychopharmacological Treatment of Anxiety in Children


Anxiety in children is a factor that has been known to interfere in children such that they get additional self evaluation with themselves. When children suffer from this problem, they practice some avoidance attitudes in some situations. The children grow with a functional breakdown which can lead to poor behavioral adjustments in later stages in life. Most of the advanced cases are due to lack of an earlier therapy. The disorder is at times less externally noticed by the parents or even the teachers due to lack of an external expression making it to be attributed to some common cases of shyness. This paper seeks to address a research the psychopharmacological treatment of the anxiety disorders in children. There will be a simple analysis of previous work which will aid in assisting the medics to conceptualize the right medication.

Anxiety in children

Anxiety disorders are part of the most regular diagnoses that are reported in epidemiological studies for children. According to some current research, about 9.0% of some pediatric samples have some anxiety disorders and further research has shown that about 18% of the cases are found in children and in other cases adolescents. The disorders found in children are mainly due to DSM-III and also DSM-III-R diagnoses for the overanxious which is part of the general anxiety disorder DSM-IV (Costello, 1989). Using some of the common criteria for generalizing the disorders, a big chunk of the children who suffer from overanxious disorders find themselves suffering from the general anxiety disorders (Allen & Swedo, 1995).

In accordance to DSM-IV anxiety, for example social anxiety is persistence in fear in the child when he or she is exposed to a public place or when the child is in a situation where there is bound to be scrutiny from the outside world. In this case, the individual fears acting in some way that might embarrass or maybe them. The fear that the individual suffers is due to the anxiety. When an individual is suffering from such fears, avoidance, distress and general anxiety, there is a significant effect on the person’s normal routine activities and might interfere with the academic work, relationships and there is clinical distress (Kendall, & Warman, 1996).

Anxiety features in children

In most children who suffer from this disorder, the anxiety is visible when they are communicating not just with adults but also with their peers. The children tend to out show some behaviors like crying, clinging to others, stutters, inhibition and to some cases, silence. Children tend to fail to achieve their expectations in accordance with their age. At an older age, the children do not interact fully with their peers and fail to engage in some common activities due to the shyness and the fear. The children get different from the others in that instead of holding peer groups, they are subjected towards their relatives. Some children get withdrawn and even fail to attend classes. If the disorders surpass the childish age to adolescence, the social and academic life of the victims hits a downturn. Most of the children fail to notice the excessive fear and the nature of the anxiety in the children is not identified at times.

Medication history

The disorder has been subject to various research projects in the recent past. The main reason as to why this has been the case is due to the primary focus by most researchers to study and strategize on medications to children who portray outside tell tales like aggressiveness, unhappiness, hyperactivity impulsiveness more than there has been research on those who have hidden traits of the same disorder. The hidden traits encompass anxiety, isolation and reclusions (Orvaschel, & Weissman, 1986).

Previous research

In a bid to intervene the disease, researchers have come up with various modes of treatment in the past. The cognitive behavior approach has a greater emphasis on the learning process where the processing of information by any individual is deemed important. The main focus of this treatment is due to the fears that are visible to the children. The method uses techniques of self realization and training through imagination, relaxing and so on until the individual learns how to cope (Orvaschel, & Weissman, 1986).

Another previous research has applied the use of peer groups. The groups are encouraged to provide support to each other and discuss the issues openly. Parent therapy as another method of combating the disorders is the involvement of parents. In this therapy, the parents are trained on how to handle the children and train them on how to cope with the fear situations. Setting the children free can be of great help since most of the fears have been known to result from the rigid structures.

Psychopharmacological treatment

This mode of treatment, which is the research subject, involves administration of psychoactive drugs over time. The efficacy of this method has not yet been certified though children have been helped to go over some of their problems. There has been use of sedatives which are anti depressant though some of the results have proven to be unsatisfactory (Klein et al., 1992).

Psychotropic medication has been on the increase over some years now though the available data is still limited. Some studies have identified benzodiazepines for the childhood medications. To be certain, enough research has to be done to avert the risks of sedation, withdrawal or even dependence on the drugs. Some studies have shown that the effects of anxiety are at times better treated by combining cognitive behavior therapy with drugs like imipramine (Bernstein et al., 2000).

Safety of the proposed candidates for the test has been proven through the favorable response that is evident in adults using “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)” thus a likelihood of success in children. Fluoxetine and fluvoxamine have been seen to help children with anxiety disorders. In this research SSRI trail in children will be carried out so as to determine its efficacy, taking care of all the side effects and counter reactions.

Reason for the research

This research will be conducted in order to establish the use and practicality of using psychopharmacological treatment as a means of averting anxiety in children. The difference in the reactions posed by the individuals will outline the pros and cons of the therapy. The main reason for performing this research is to help the affected children come over this weakness and be able to live comfortably with the other populace. The end result of the research will be a conviction as to whether the implied methods really can help, how they help and the advantages and disadvantages of using the therapy so as to be of help to the affected.


Allen, A. & Swedo, S. (1995) “Current knowledge of medications for the treatment of childhood anxiety disorders”. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry; 34:976-986.

Bernstein, G. et al. (2000), “Last CG: Imipramine plus cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of school refusal”. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry; 39:276- 283.

Costello, E. (1989). “Child psychiatric disorders and their correlates: a primary care pediatric sample”. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry ; 28:851-855.

Kendall, P. & Warman, M. (1996) “Anxiety disorders in youth: diagnostic consistency across DSM-III-R and DSM-IV”. J Anxiety Disord, 10:452-463.

Klein, D. et al. (1992) “Child panic revisited”. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry; 31:112-116.

Orvaschel, H. & Weissman, M. (1986) “Epidemiology of anxiety in children”, in Anxiety Disorders of Childhood. New York, Guilford Press, pp 58-72.

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