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Feature Article

Managing anxiety disorders in children and adolescents

Sloane Madden

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Abstract

Affecting almost one in 10 children and adolescents, anxiety disorders may cause significant impairment and distress. Fortunately these disorders respond well to cognitive behavioural and family therapies and medications.

Key Points

  • Anxiety disorders are among the most common psychiatric disorders affecting children and adolescents.
  • Untreated anxiety disorders in children and adolescents are associated with high rates of impairment in educational and social development during adolescence, and with adult anxiety disorders, substance abuse, unemployment and social isolation.
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable with psychological therapies (including cognitive behavioural and family therapy) and antidepressant medications.
  • Common anxiety presentations in children and adolescents include separation anxiety with school refusal and somatisation (headaches, abdominal pain), anxiety about school performance and social anxiety.

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