, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 99-110
Date: 12 Jan 2011

Assessment and Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents

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This article reviews the current screening and assessment tools for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents, as well as evidence-based treatment interventions for these disorders. The following anxiety disorders are discussed: separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobia, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), and selective mutism. There are several well-studied screening and assessment tools to identify childhood anxiety disorders early and differentiate the various anxiety disorders. Evaluations of baseline somatic symptoms, severity, and impairment ratings of the anxiety disorders, and collecting ratings from several sources is clinically helpful in assessment and treatment follow-up. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been extensively studied and has shown good efficacy in treatment of childhood anxiety disorders. A combination of CBT and medication may be required for moderate to severely impairing anxiety disorders and may improve functioning better than either intervention alone. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are currently the only medications that have consistently shown efficacy in treatment of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Despite proven efficacy, the availability of CBT in the community is limited. Current research is focusing on early identification of anxiety disorders in community settings, increasing the availability of evidence-based interventions, and modification of interventions for specific populations.