Treatment for Anxiety

Anxiety is best treated with either behavioral therapy or a combination of behavioral therapy and medication.

The evidence-based therapy of choice for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. CBT is based on the idea that how we think and act both affect how we feel. By changing thinking that is distorted, and behavior that is dysfunctional, we can change our emotions.

One of the most important techniques in CBT for children with anxiety is called exposure and response prevention. The basic idea is that kids are exposed to the things that trigger their anxiety in structured, incremental steps, and in a safe setting. As they become accustomed to each of the triggers in turn, the anxiety fades, and they are ready to take on increasingly powerful ones.

Medication can alleviate symptoms of anxiety as well, and may make behavioral therapy more effective for some children. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, have proven effective at managing anxiety.

Additional Resources

Parents Guide to Getting Good Care

Teacher’s Guide to Anxiety