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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 50 (2008) 1, 43 - 53

Farmacotherapy

Pharmacotherapy for social phobia, generalised anxiety disorder and separation anxiety disorder in children and adolescents: an overview

G.C. Dieleman, R.F. Ferdinand

summary
background Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent psychiatric disorders during childhood. They are often persistent and are associated with a number of negative outcomes. Therefore, effective treatment is required.
aim To present an overview of placebo-controlled studies of pharmacotherapy for social phobia, generalised anxiety disorder and separation anxiety disorder in children an adolescents and to determine which medication is the most effective.
method The literature was reviewed using Pubmed.
results Nine randomised double-blind studies on the efficacy of pharmacotherapy for generalised anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder and social phobia were found. Tricyclic antidepressants were not more effective than placebo. Studies on benzodiazepines showed that the effect of these drugs was not superior to that of placebo either. Studies of the efficacy of ssris, however, proved that they were superior to placebo.
conclusion ssris are the drugs of first choice for the treatment of social phobias, separation anxiety disorder and generalised anxiety disorder in children and adolescents. There is strong evidence that ssris are effective for the treatment of these anxiety disorders; the standardised effect size varies between medium and large.

keywords anxiety disorders, child, adolescent, pharmacotherapy