Drug offers hope in teen-age anxiety
(CNN) -- The drug fluvoxamine works well in relieving anxiety disorders in children and teenagers, according to a study in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.
Anxiety may be one of the most common problems affecting young people today. Youngsters with anxiety -- whether it's fear of getting on a school bus or worrying about poor grades -- tend to grow up to become adults with the same condition. They are up to six times more likely to develop major depression or other psychiatric illness, according to experts.
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health followed 128 young people aged 6 to 17 who had been diagnosed with anxiety, social phobia or separation anxiety disorder. They found that 76 percent of the 63 subjects who were given fluvoxamine showed significantly less anxiety, compared with 29 percent of those taking a placebo.
Volunteers were at first given psychotherapy, but it was found to be helpful in only 3 percent of cases.
One researcher agreed that the results were impressive, but remained cautious.
"They nevertheless raise some very important questions about the use of psychotropic medications in children," wrote Dr. Joseph Coyle of Harvard Medical School, in an editorial in the journal.
Fluvoxamine is similar to many other anxiety medications that are available, but it is the only one approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in children. Sold by Solvay Pharmaceuticals under the brand name Luvox, it is known as a selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor, in the same class as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Medical Correspondent, and Reuters contributed to this report.
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