2017 Children’s Mental Health Report
Treatments That Work
Anxiety Disorder Treatment
A trial of treatments for youth with anxiety disorders showed that a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and antidepressant medication (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, called sertraline, or Zoloft) is the most effective acute or short- term treatment.¹
After 12 weeks:
- Combination therapy was effective in 81% of participants
- CBT alone was effective in 60% of participants
- Medication alone was effective in 55% of participants
The trial of treatments for adolescents with depression showed that a combination of antidepressant medication (fluoxetine, or Prozac) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is more effective than either fluoxetine or CBT alone. ²
Rate of improvement after 12 weeks
- Combination therapy: 71%
- CBT alone: 43.2%
- Medication alone: 60.6%
Stimulant medication significantly reduces ADHD symptoms for most young people
- 70% get a benefit from a single stimulant medication.³
- 85% get a benefit when more than one stimulant medication is tried.⁴
The best results for adolescents with ADHD come from combined approaches to treatment using medication and behavioral therapy.⁵ In a trial of ADHD treatment:
- 68% of participants receiving combined medication and behavioral therapy had an “excellent response”
- 56% receiving medication alone had an “excellent response”
- 34% receiving behavioral treatment alone had an “excellent response”
Intervention relatively early after a first episode of psychosis with a combination of medication and other services has been shown to reduce the risk of recurring episodes. The treatment that has been shown to be successful, called Coordinated Specialty Care, involves a combination of services coordinated by a group of professionals working with the patient and the family.⁶ They include:
- Lower doses of antipsychotic medication.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy for psychosis (CBTp)
- Family education and support
- Educational and vocational rehabilitation
 Walkup, J. T., Albano, A. M., Piacentini, J., Birmaher, B., Compton, S. N., Sherrill, J. T., … Kendall, P. C. (2008). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Sertraline, or a Combination in Childhood Anxiety. The New England Journal of Medicine, 359(26), 2753– 2766.
 Treatment for Adolescents With Depression Study (TADS) Team. (2004). Fluoxetine, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and their combination for adolescents with depression. JAMA. 292(7), 807-820. doi:10.1001/jama.292.7.807
 Spencer, T., Biederman, J., Wilens, T., Harding, M., O’Donnel, D., & Griffin, S. (1996). Pharmacotherapy of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder across the Life Cycle. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 35(4), 409-432. doi:10.1097/00004583-199604000-00008
 Hinshaw, S. P., & Scheffler, R. M. (2014). The ADHD explosion: Myths, medication, money, and today’s push for performance.
 Hinshaw, S. P., & Arnold, L. E. (2015). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, multimodal treatment, and longitudinal outcome: Evidence, paradox, and challenge. WIREs Cognitive Science, 6, 39-52.
 National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Evidence-based treatments for first episode psychosis: Components of Coordinated Specialty Care. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/raise/evidence-based-treatments-for-first-episode-psychosis-components-of-coordinated-specialty-care.shtml