The researchers found that 81 percent of the children receiving cognitive behavior therapy plus Zoloft improved, compared with 60 percent who received cognitive behavior therapy alone and 55 percent who received only Zoloft. Among patients receiving placebo, 24 percent showed improvement.
The study also confirmed the safety of Zoloft. There were no more side effects among children taking the drug than there were among those receiving placebo. Moreover, none of the children taking Zoloft attempted suicide, which has been recognized as a rare side effect of the drug in children.
Albano noted that anxiety disorders in children are not just a phase. "These are debilitating disorders that run a long-term course into adulthood," she said. "They lead to other anxiety disorders, and later on, they lead to depression and can lead to substance abuse."
Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, thinks that the effectiveness of the combination of Zoloft and cognitive behavior therapy is an important message to both doctors and patients.
"What is perhaps most important here is that the combination was superior to either therapy in isolation," Katz said. "In the modern medical age, we tend to bank heavily on advanced technology and wonder drugs. The use of sertraline, while effective, did not obviate the need for, or benefit of, psychological counseling. There is, it seems, nothing in a pill bottle that fully compensates for the time patient and provider spend constructively together," he said.
Jerilyn Ross, president and CEO of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, thinks this study can raise awareness of a serious, but treatable problem that should not be ignored.
"This study tells us that we have treatments that
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