Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 12, pp 3215–3229 | Cite as

A Systematic Review of Treatments for Anxiety in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Roma A. Vasa
  • Laura M. Carroll
  • Alixandra A. Nozzolillo
  • Rajneesh Mahajan
  • Micah O. Mazurek
  • Amanda E. Bennett
  • Logan K. Wink
  • Maria Pilar Bernal
Original Paper

Abstract

This study systematically examined the efficacy and safety of psychopharmacological and non-psychopharmacological treatments for anxiety in youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Four psychopharmacological, nine cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and two alternative treatment studies met inclusion criteria. Psychopharmacological studies were descriptive or open label, sometimes did not specify the anxiety phenotype, and reported behavioral activation. Citalopram and buspirone yielded some improvement, whereas fluvoxamine did not. Non-psychopharmacological studies were mainly randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with CBT demonstrating moderate efficacy for anxiety disorders in youth with high functioning ASD. Deep pressure and neurofeedback provided some benefit. All studies were short-term and included small sample sizes. Large scale and long term RCTs examining psychopharmacological and non-psychopharmacological treatments are sorely needed.

Keywords

Anxiety Autism spectrum disorders Treatments Children Adolescents 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roma A. Vasa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Laura M. Carroll
    • 3
  • Alixandra A. Nozzolillo
    • 4
  • Rajneesh Mahajan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Micah O. Mazurek
    • 5
    • 6
  • Amanda E. Bennett
    • 7
  • Logan K. Wink
    • 8
  • Maria Pilar Bernal
    • 9
    • 10
  1. 1.Kennedy Krieger InstituteBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Center for Child and Adolescent Health Research and PolicyMassachusetts General Hospital for ChildrenBostonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Health PsychologyUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  6. 6.Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental DisordersColumbiaUSA
  7. 7.Division of Developmental and Behavioral PediatricsChildren’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA
  8. 8.Division of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA
  9. 9.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  10. 10.The Permanente Medical GroupOaklandUSA

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