Pharmacotherapy for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents

Pediatr Clin North Am. 2011 Feb;58(1):55-72, x. doi: 10.1016/j.pcl.2010.10.002.


Anxiety disorders comprise the most prevalent mental health disorders among children and adults. Psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy are effective in improving clinical impairments from anxiety disorders and maintaining these improvements. This article discusses how to obtain a suitable diagnosis for anxiety disorders in youth for implementing appropriate treatments, focusing on the evidence base for pharmacologic treatment. Clinical guidelines are discussed, including Food and Drug Administration indications and off-label use of medications, and considerations for special populations and youth with comorbidities are highlighted. Findings suggest moderate effectiveness of medication, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, in the treatment of anxiety disorders in youth.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Off-Label Use
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors