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New Study Finds Both Therapy and Zoloft Effective in the Treatment of Childhood Anxiety

Posted Jan 14 2009 7:23pm

Good news from the world of mental health research.According to this article, a new study has found both cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and Zoloft to be effective in the treatment of childhood anxiety disorders (when compared to a control group that was simply administered a placebo), and that a combination of the two treatments proved to be even more effective. From the article:

The children had been diagnosed with a range of moderate to severe disorders, including separation anxiety, generalized anxiety and social phobia. Some of the children also had more than one disorder, including other anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and behavior problems.

Walkup and colleagues found that:

81 per cent of the children in the combined treatment group improved.

This compared with 60 per cent of the children in the CBT only group and 55 per cent Zoloft only group.

In the placebo group, 24 per cent of the children improved.

Children taking Zoloft showed no more side effects that children taking placebo and few children withdrew because of side effects.

No child attempted suicide, a rare side effect that can sometimes accompany use of antidepressants in children.

The article offers a brief description of both CBT and Zoloft, including their mechanism for facilitating improvement. What I appreciate about this particular article is that it noticed the effectiveness of CBT independent of any medication:

The findings reflect other studies that showed Zoloft and other SSRIs were effective treatments for childhood anxiety disorders. But the authors said this study also adds more evidence that high quality CBT, with or without medication, is an effective treatment for childhood anxiety disorders.

Continuing to identify the effectiveness of properly conducted therapy is paramount in helping the general population overcome any concerns or stigma they may have about the process. In addition, not all individuals respond to psychopharmacological treatment; documenting effective alternative treatments will give clients choices when it comes to dealing with these issues.

As I noted inan earlier post, anxiety is not only an important treatment issue in its own right, it is significantly associated with later development of depression. In short, “anxious kids often become depressed adults.” Learning to counteract the cognitive and behavioral patterns that lead to, and maintain, a state of anxiety would be the best preventative method towards reducing depression in adults. The article indicates that this research is continuing, which is also very good news. If you are interested in seeing the actual research article, follow the initial link, and click through at the bottom of that page.

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