Resources and Treatments
As a parent or caregiver, helping your anxious child to succeed and overcome challenges can sometimes be difficult. However, there are a number of effective resources and treatments available.
Professional care providers offer education and treatment. There are a number of recommended treatment techniques, and these may vary depending on the type and severity of a child’s anxiety, as well as on individual and family factors.
The two most effective treatment strategies for anxious youth are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medication. These treatments offer different benefits and may be used in combination:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT is a structured, goal-focused, time-limited intervention used to treat individuals with anxiety. CBT has been demonstrated to help reduce anxiety symptoms in both adults and children, and is used alone or in combination with medication and/or mindfulness meditation to treat anxiety. CBT involves working with a therapist to learn strategies for coping with anxious feelings and thoughts, and to challenge negative thoughts. A major component of treatment is exposure therapy, which involves approaching feared situations in a graded, step-by-step fashion. This helps the child learn over time that they can tolerate feeling anxious. CBT is practiced in session with a therapist as well as at home. Parental involvement in CBT may vary depending on age, development, and the type of anxiety.
- Medication – Medication is widely used to treat anxiety symptoms, often in combination with CBT. The medications shown in research studies to be most effective for both adult and child anxiety are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Each child is different, and the type, dose, or necessity of medication will vary based on the physician’s assessment.
Mindfulness Meditation is another tool often used to help individuals manage anxiety and stress.
- Mindfulness Meditation – This practice can be helpful for anyone experiencing stress or anxiety. Mindfulness involves learning to focus on the present moment, and observing thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without judgment. The ultimate goal is not to eliminate distressing emotions or thoughts altogether, but to change one’s reaction to difficult emotions and anxious thoughts.