Anxiety and Medication for Children

Updated on October 30, 2012
L.T. asks from Vancouver, WA
9 answers

I am wondering if any of you have dealt with your child having anxiety issues and how you have dealt with it? My 9 year old daughter has been having a hard time with anxiety for a year and a half now. Long story short, her anxiety has to do with eating and worrying about getting sick to her stomache and being afraid to eat. (especially away from home) She has had different levels of anxiety from it but now it has gone into not wanting to go to school and not eating while she is there. She is starting to lose weight and this is worrying me as she is already very thin. I have had her in counseling and will continue it. She has been to the Doctor and to the Naturopath doctor. She is taking a natural Serotonin supplement now. She has been taking it for a little over 3 weeks and it hasn't done anything for her yet. I understand that it can take up to a month to work. What I am trying to decide is if I should put her on anxiety medication if the natural supplement does not work for her. (we will give it another 3 weeks or so). I have read there are some negative side effects with the Anxiety medications and this is concerning to me. I am wanting to get some help from some of you that may have dealt with this with your own child. My husband and I do not want to put her on medication but because she has been struggling with this for so long now and now it is becoming a stress to her health, I am wondering if this might be the next step.

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answers from San Antonio on

Cognitive behavioral therapy...find a therapist who works with this technique...basically it changes they way she thinks about the anxiety (food) and re programs that little voice in her head telling her to be anxious.

It works wonders...and there are no drugs involved...

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answers from Columbia on

My opinion is that she is too young for anti anxiety meds.

What she needs is cognitive behavioral therapy. She needs help to retrain her brain.

Right now she has a recording that keeps on replaying in her brain every time she eats. CBT will help her to play a NEW that helps her to calm down, trust, and know that she is safe.

I think that your daughter sounds like a perfect candidate for CBT and I'd work to find a provider in your area who specializes. Here is some more information:

*Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. I am an EMT and Combat Medic who deals with Soldiers with PTSD and TBI on a regular basis. Please seek guidance from a licensed mental health professional.

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answers from San Francisco on

My daughter went through something VERY similar and year and a half ago (she was 12.)
How long has she been in therapy? If it's been more than a few months (going once a week) and you are not seeing any improvement you may want to try another therapist.
Anti anxiety meds were discussed with her GI doc, and I actually got a prescription but never had it filled because I truly wanted that to be a last resort. She was in therapy for a year, it was a long process with many baby steps along the way, and while she still has some issues, it's not anywhere near as bad as it was.
Please PM me if you want further details/advice. I have BEEN there, I know how scary it is to watch your child not eat and lose weight out of an irrational fear :(


answers from Dallas on

I'm currently trying to help my 8yo son deal with perfectionism and anxiety. This article from was interesting, and I taught my son the meditation technique mentioned in the article. It has helped him with the major anxiety he feels in the evenings; he still has anxiety, but meditating has helped. His doctor mentioned medication as a possible option on down the road, but we're not ready for that. We want to exhaust all other options first. Anyway, I thought you may find this article helpful. I'm sorry you and your daughter are struggling. I know I hate watching my son deal with anxiety.



answers from Columbus on

My daughter is taking L-theanine and Lemon Balm for anxiety - both are homeopathic and given by her doctor. But you do need to give more than 3 weeks for some things. I would also explore yoga and meditation with her. My friend's son is having a lot of the same problems as my daughter and she is doing a very low dose of anxiety med with him and it has gone very well. But I always worry about the long term effects of medications -- as I've gotten older, my body has started reacting badly to a lot of medicines that most people tolerate well, and I worry my daughter will have some similar genetic predisposition to those problems, so I'm trying to avoid medication as much as possible.



answers from Portland on

I know of a person who can help her tremendously. She is awesome and works well with children. She will get to the bottom of what is actually happening to her and actually get rid of the reason instead of trying to learn to deal with it. If you are interested please contact me and I will give you her name. She is in Portland.

Also, there is homoepathic drops for anxiety called

Also, my understanding is it is dangerous to give children melatonin because it messes up their hormones. Up to you but I would not give it to her especially if it hasn't helped.




answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with Christy that your daughter is young for medication. Most medications for anxiety were not tested on children.

I am not a mental health professional either, I am a grad student studying psychology and an avid reader of the subject.

I recommend reading the book "SPARK: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain" by John J. Ratey. It describes the scientific evidence that 30 minutes of vigorous exercise each day works as well as most prescribed anti-anxiety medications. Many psychologists who specialize in anxiety disorders use exercise in their therapy programs.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I wonder what a psychologist would say about this treatment and need for therapy to face the fears so they'll go away. Taking medication while working on facing these issues can be a wonderful time saver.

Once they have the strength to work through the issues they get better so very quick. Medication for anxiety is usually only needed for a short time while doing therapy. Then they start weaning them off of it and then they are all done with all of it. They have learned skills to keep the anxiety at bay and are off any medications.



answers from Sacramento on

Our son has a form of anxiety, OCD, and was put on medication at a young age so he could be functional (it was greatly affecting quality of life). Within a week of starting Celexa, his OCD was under control. It worked on his anxiety in ways that our parenting strategies could not. He has had no side effects with Celexa.

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