New research evaluates the efficiency of first-line medication for treating pediatric anxiety disorders

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati conducted a thorough evaluation of the first-line drug treatments used for pediatric anxiety disorders. Based on their findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, they established its efficiency in improving symptoms.

In the study, the research team examined the common use of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) known as escitalopram.

SSRIs, which hypothetically increase the neurotransmitter serotonin by inhibiting its reuptake from the synaptic cleft, are the first-line drug choice for the treatment of anxiety disorders in both adolescents and adults.

The examination of escitalopram was initiated using 51 participants aged 12-17. The participants were given either a dose of escitalopram or a placebo for a span of eight weeks. SSRIs generally take several weeks until it reaches its potential full therapeutic effect.

The participants underwent blood tests and other assessments to identify any adversities or concerns during the course of their treatment.

As countless studies have previously indicated, the new UC-based findings also showed that escitalopram was more efficient than a placebo for the alleviation of anxiety in adolescents. In some patients, their symptoms improved faster than others, particularly among slower metabolizers of the SSRI.

“Also, differences in how adolescents break down the medication affected blood levels, and these blood levels predicted certain side effects, like restlessness, jitteriness and insomnia,” researchers stated in a news release.

“For clinicians treating anxious adolescents, this study provides preliminary answers to important questions about the effectiveness of this treatment. It may also help clinicians predict how quickly patients respond and identify which patients may be less likely to get better.”

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