Researchers have found that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are very effective in treating children and adolescents with paediatric anxiety disorder.
They reached the conclusion after examining common medications prescribed for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders.
SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed anti-depressants, which can ease symptoms of moderate to severe depression and cause fewer side effects compared with other anti-depressants.
Symptoms of anxiety include recurring fears, aversions to social situations as well as being unable to control worries. It could manifest into troubled sleep, difficulty in concentrating, and heart and digestive issues.
According to the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health disorder in children.
"Clinicians have limited data to help them select from among the evidence-based treatments for patients with anxiety. This meta-analysis provides guidance in terms of medication-specific differences in efficacy and tolerability among medications, commonly used to treat pediatric patients with anxiety disorders," said Jeffrey Strawn, Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati in the US.
"Our study synthesises evidences from multiple trials to guide clinicians and patients in deciding which medication to go for while treating children and adolescents with anxiety disorders," said Eric Dobson, psychiatry resident at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
For the study, researchers studied 2,623 patients, aged 11 and a half years on average. Patients with social anxiety disorders with moderate severity were randomly assigned to receive medication or placebo and had .
The results, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, showed among anxious youth treatment response was more effective with SSRIs than with serotonin-norepineprhine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
While SSRIs were the most tolerable class of medication, tricyclic antidepressants were the least tolerable, findings revealed.
"This comprehensive evaluation comparing efficacy and tolerability of treatments in pediatric anxiety disorders suggests that SSRIs are superior to SNRIs and all other classes of medications," said Dobson.
The findings confirm the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry's recommendations that SSRIs should be considered as the first-line of medication treatment for anxiety in youth, Strawn noted.