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Do Pediatricians Prescribe Anxiety Medication

Nervousness Can Feel Awful What Are The Pro And Cons Of Treatment Options


Anxiety feels highly unpleasant. Anxious feelings can torment you. They can feel as unbearable as physical pain. Drug companies recommend anti-anxiety pills. TV ads promulgate pills. Many physicians write a pill prescription as the best route to feeling calmer. In my clinical practice, by contrast, I find that non-pill treatment methods help in all but the most and chronic extreme cases. And they help without the downsides of anti-anxiety medications.

How Can A Psychological Treatment Potentially Reduce Anxious Feelings

Pill-giving is a get-rid-of-that-feeling-without-listening-to-its-message approach. Psychotherapists, by contrast, help anxious clients to identify the underlying concerns triggering their anxiety. They then help them to map a plan of action to address these concerns.

Therapists sometimes quote the mantra “the best antidote for anxiety is information. Think, for instance, of when you have worried that you have a serious physical problem. Speaking to a physician who explains that your symptoms are benignor tells you what the problem is and how to handle itdissipates the anxious feelings.

Therapists also reduce anxiety with cognitive-behavioral approaches . These techniques clarify thought patterns, such as worrying and catastrophizing, that exacerbate anxious feelings. CBT therapists then teach new options to diminish the likelihood of future anxiety episodes.

Ranking The Best Medication For Anxiety Of 2021

Medication for anxiety can relieve anxious feelings, reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks, and produce a sense of calm where there was agitation.

Millions of Americans use these medications on a daily basis to deal with general anxiety, panic attacks, various phobias, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more.

If you believe anxiety is interfering with your day-to-day life, consult your doctor or mental health professional to find out if anxiety medication is right for you.

Below are the best medications for anxiety of 2021.

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Parental And Family Factors That Influence Prescribing Of Antidepressants

Most pediatricians considered family and parent-specific factors in their decision to prescribe medications. Among the key themes with regard to this domain were parental ambivalence, functional impairment within the family and the childs psychosocial milieu.

The impact of the patients symptoms on family function was considered by nearly half of studied pediatricians as an important family-related factor that influences the likelihood of prescribing medication. All of the examples described pediatric patients with anxiety disorders. One pediatrician captured this, noting: is it affecting Moms ability to go to work? Is she on the verge of being fired because shes getting called to pick the kid up from school 2 or 3 times a week because hes having panic attacks or anxiety fits? Another pediatrician who described family functional impairment shared: the anxiety ones are the ones that are having the most trouble withthe kid doesnt want to go to school, theyre having panic attacks, its disrupting mom and dads daily lifeso theyre the ones that are actually more interested in starting meds for me.

How Will The Doctor Diagnose My Anxiety

Doctor Cunningham: What Do Doctors Prescribe For Anxiety

You will discuss your symptoms with the doctor: what they are, how they interfere with your life, and how long youâve been struggling with them.

The doctor will then likely perform a psychological evaluation and compare your symptoms to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , published by the American Psychiatric Association.

With that information, your doctor will diagnose you with a specific type of anxiety and recommend a medication to help treat your symptoms.

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Up And Up: Pediatric Anxiety Diagnoses On The Rise

It’s a trend that should be familiar to anyone in pediatric medicine: More and more children are being diagnosed with anxiety, and they’re increasingly being treated with anti-anxiety medications.

Are kids more anxious today, or are doctors more likely to diagnose and treat pediatric anxiety?

Recently, athenahealth researchers examined data from primary care and mental health providers on the athenahealth network who saw pediatric patients between 2013 and 2017. During that time, the percentage of pediatric patients with an anxiety diagnosis more than doubled, from 1.9 percent in 2013 to 4.4 percent five years later. When it came to treatment with medications, the percentage of patients prescribed anti-anxiety drugs over that time increased by a factor of six, from 0.5 percent in 2013 to 2.9 percent in 2017.

For me,” says Josh Gray, athenahealth vice president of research, it’s not just this rise in anxiety diagnoses that’s interesting it’s also this enormous relative increase in anti-anxiety prescriptions. Are children really experiencing anxiety at higher rates, or is it that doctors are just more apt to diagnose it? And either way, why are doctors more likely to prescribe for anxiety today than they were a few years ago?”

Notably, the observed increase in treatment with anti-anxiety medications was overwhelmingly driven by prescriptions for SSRIs: In 2013, 0.4 percent of children were treated with SSRIs, while 2.5 percent received SSRI prescriptions in 2017.

How To Help Your Anxious Child

If your child is having problems with anxiety, there’s plenty you can do to help.

Above all, it’s important to talk to your child about their anxiety or worries.

Read more about how to help an anxious child, including self-help tips for parents of anxious children.

Many children at different ages may have anxieties that will go away after a while, with your reassurance.

However, it’s a good idea to seek professional help or reassurance yourself if your child is constantly anxious and:

  • it’s not getting better, or is getting worse
  • self-help is not working
  • it’s affecting their school or family life, or their friendships

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Questions To Ask Your Doctor

Youve probably thought of a million questions you want to ask your doctor. But when youre in the office, theyre easy to forget. Writing them down will help both you and your doctor, and save time. Its a good idea to put the most important questions at the top of the list in case there isnt time for all of them. Here are some questions you may want to ask. Add any others you think are important for your doctor to know.

  • Do I have an anxiety disorder?
  • Is there something else that might be causing my symptoms?
  • What treatment do you recommend?
  • Should I see a psychiatrist or a psychologist?
  • Is there a medication that I can take? Does it have side effects? What can I do to prevent or relieve the side effects?
  • Is there a generic medication I can take? How long will I need to take it?
  • When will I feel better?
  • What else can I do to relieve my symptoms?

The list of questions you make will help you be prepared to answer your doctors questions. Here are some questions your doctor will probably ask you:

Coping Support And Resources

Consuming Anxiety Medication & Alcohol Together Will Kill You

In addition to your prescribed treatment, you may want to join a support group. It can be very helpful to talk with other people who are experiencing symptoms similar to yours. Its good to know that you are not alone. Someone else with similar symptoms can understand what youre going through and offer support and encouragement. Being part of a group can also help you develop new social skills.

Your community will likely have several support groups, either for your specific disorder or for anxiety in general. Check with your medical professionals to learn what resources are available in your area. You might ask your:

  • mental health provider
  • primary doctor
  • county mental health services agency

You can also participate in support groups online. This may be a good way to start if you have social anxiety disorder or feel uncomfortable in a face-to-face group setting.

Treatment of diagnosed anxiety is often multi-disciplinary. This means you may see one or all of the following medical practitioners:

  • primary care physician

Recommended Reading: Is Depression And Anxiety A Mental Illness

Common Side Effects Of Ssris And Snris

Many teens dont experience side effects when taking SSRIs or SNRIs. Those that do may find the side effects are often mild and usually go away within the first few weeks of treatment.

The most common side effects include:

  • Dizziness

Other possible side effects may include:

  • Changes in sexual function, such as reduced sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, or difficulty achieving orgasm
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness

Its important to report any side effects to your teens doctor. If one medication isnt working or its causing serious side effects, your teen may need to change medications.

Classes Of Anxiety Drugs

Anxiety medicine will not cure an anxiety disorder. But medications can relieve the emotional and physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder. This allows people to better participate in CBT.

Classes of drugs for anxiety include:

  • Anti-anxiety medications or anxiolytics include benzodiazepines, or benzos, and a non-benzodiazepine alternative. Benzos are for short-term management of anxiety symptoms. They relieve symptoms, such as panic or worry, quickly. But people rapidly develop a tolerance to their effects and they are potentially addictive. So, doctors usually do not use them long-term for anxiety treatment.

  • Antidepressants balance brain chemicals that control mood and stress. This can be helpful in treating anxiety disorders, especially if is also present. There are several classes of antidepressants, with varying side effects. It can take several weeks or even a couple of months to see the full benefit of these drugs.

  • Beta blockers are drugs that treat and certain heart problems. But their effects can also be helpful for relieving physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heart rate, and trembling. This makes them useful for anxiety disorders and for occasional performance anxiety, such as public speaking. These uses are off-label, meaning they do not have formal FDA approval for this purpose.

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How To Try To Prevent Suicidal Thoughts And Actions

To try to prevent suicidal thoughts and actions in your child, pay close attention to changes in her or his moods or actions, especially if the changes occur suddenly. Other important people in your child’s life can help by paying attention as well . The changes to look out for are listed in Section 3, on what to watch for.

Whenever an antidepressant is started or its dose is changed, pay close attention to your child.

After starting an antidepressant, your child should generally see his or her healthcare provider:

  • Once a week for the first 4 weeks
  • Every 2 weeks for the next 4 weeks
  • After taking the antidepressant for 12 weeks
  • After 12 weeks, follow your healthcare provider’s advice about how often to come back
  • More often if problems or questions arise

You should call your child’s healthcare provider between visits if needed.

How Do People Respond To Anti


Anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines are effective in relieving anxiety and take effect more quickly than the antidepressant medications often prescribed for anxiety. However, people can build up a tolerance to benzodiazepines if they are taken over a long period of time and may need higher and higher doses to get the same effect. Some people may even become dependent on them. To avoid these problems, doctors usually prescribe benzodiazepines for short periods, a practice that is especially helpful for older adults , people who have substance abuse problems and people who become dependent on medication easily. If people suddenly stop taking benzodiazepines, they may have withdrawal symptoms or their anxiety may return. Therefore, benzodiazepines should be tapered off slowly.

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Medication For Anxiety Disorders In Children

Medication can be an important and sometimes critical component of treating anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Many children and teens with anxiety disorders find cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of the two to be helpful for overcoming anxiety. Younger children tend to respond well to behavioral therapy alone, whereas older children and adolescents may see the best results from a combination of medication and behavioral therapy.

Psychiatrists at the Child Study Center, part of Hassenfeld Childrens Hospital at NYU Langone, offer a medication consultation, in which you meet with them to discuss this treatment option. During the appointment, they can address any questions or concerns you may have. Our specialists are experts in matching the right medication to your childs needs.

The most common type of medication used for treating anxiety disorders in children and adolescents is a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They work by raising levels of a brain chemical known as serotonin. This enables brain chemicals to communicate better, helping to improve mood and reduce anxiety. These medications include sertraline, paroxetine, and citalopram. Side effects include insomnia, anxiety, nausea, and diarrhea.

Women Who Are Pregnant Or Who May Become Pregnant

The research on the use of psychiatric medications during pregnancy is limited. The risks are different depending on which medication is taken, and at what point during the pregnancy the medication is taken. Decisions on treatments for all conditions during pregnancy should be based on each woman’s needs and circumstances, and based on a careful weighing of the likely benefits and risks of all available options, including psychotherapy , medication, or a combination of the two. While no medication is considered perfectly safe for all women at all stages of pregnancy, this must be balanced for each woman against the fact that untreated serious mental disorders themselves can pose a risk to a pregnant woman and her developing fetus. Medications should be selected based on available scientific research, and they should be taken at the lowest possible dose. Pregnant women should have a medical professional who will watch them closely throughout their pregnancy and after delivery.

Most women should avoid certain medications during pregnancy. For example:

Antidepressants, especially SSRIs, are considered to be safe during pregnancy. However, antidepressant medications do cross the placental barrier and may reach the fetus. Birth defects or other problems are possible, but they are very rare. The effects of antidepressants on childhood development remain under study.

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When Teens Should Seek Help For Anxiety

There are many different types of anxiety, such as:

There are also many different types of phobias that may impact your teens daily life.

Anxiety becomes problematic when it affects a teens social, occupational, or educational functioning. Here are a few examples of times when anxiety becomes problematic:

  • A teen thinks everyone is always staring at them. They refuse to eat lunch in the cafeteria and avoid talking in class.
  • A teen survived a near-fatal car accident on a rainy evening. Several months later, they continue to have nightmares and flashbacks. They refuse to get in a car when its raining.
  • A teen has started experiencing panic attacks. They’re worried a panic attack will happen at school. They have started refusing to go to school.

Approximately 80% of young people with an anxiety disorder dont get treatment. Thats unfortunate because anxiety is treatable. And sometimes, that treatment includes medication.

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