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Treatment for Youth Anxiety Disorders has Lasting Effects

Update Date: Feb 27, 2014 03:36 PM EST

Anxiety disorders can prevent people from enjoying life to the fullest, which is why finding long-lasting and effective treatment options is important. In a new study, researchers examined the effects of acute treatment with one of three options, which were cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), sertraline medication and the combination of both treatments. They found that adolescents with moderate to severe anxiety disorders responded well to these types of treatment options.

For this study, the research team headed by Dr. John Piacentini from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human behavior recruited 412 children between the ages of seven and 17. The children had all completed 12 weeks of acute treatment with one of the three options, after which the children were offered six months of additional sessions. All of the children were evaluated at week 12, at three months and then at six months. This study was a part of the NIMH Child/Adolescent Anxiety Multimodal Study (CAMS).

The researchers stated that children who received acute treatment with the medication continued to take them during the additional booster sessions. During the six-month follow-up, 27 percent of the children had also received outside psychotherapy and/or medication that were not controlled for by the study for certain mental health symptoms.

The researcher reported that at week 12, over 80 percent of the children responded positively to one of the three treatment options. At the three-month and six-month points, the same proportion of children were rated as positive responders to the treatments. The researchers found that five percent of the children receiving CBT combined with sertraline did not improve and 15 to 16 percent of the children who had CBT alone or sertraline-old failed to achieve positive responder status.

"The results of this study provide further evidence of the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy and SSRI medication, alone or in combination, for treating clinically significant anxiety in children and adolescents," said Dr. Piacentini reported by Medical Xpress. "A separate project by the CAMS researchers is now gathering information on how study participants are doing up to 10 years after study participation."

The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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