Treating Pediatric Anxiety: What Works?

Michael T. Compton, MD, MPH


June 10, 2011

In This Article

Editor's Note: As the second in a 3-part series on highlights from the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in sunny Honolulu, Hawaii, below Dr. Michael Compton discusses updates on the assessment and management of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents.

Pediatric Anxiety: Introduction

In an Advances in Research session[1] on Monday, May 16, 2011, Dr. John T. Walkup, Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital and this year's recipient of the Blanche F. Ittleson Award for Research in Child Psychiatry at the Annual Meeting, discussed "Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents: State-of-the-Art Assessment and Treatment."

Dr. Walkup began by noting that anxiety disorders were some of the first psychiatric illnesses treated with medications in clinical trials among children; for example, in the 1960s and 1970s, Gittelman-Klein studied imipramine and psychotherapy for school phobia,[2] Rapoport and colleagues studied clomipramine[3] for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and later industry-sponsored studies assessed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in OCD and depression.[1] "The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has been very involved in this effort," Dr. Walkup noted. NIMH developed the Research Units of Pediatric Psychopharmacology (RUPP), which evaluated fluvoxamine for childhood anxiety disorders, fluvoxamine and stimulants for children with anxiety and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and treatments for adolescent suicide attempters.[4,5,6]


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