Anxiety in Children May Be Best Solved Without Meds


According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 25 percent of children ages 13 to 18 suffer from anxiety of some form, and 5.9 percent suffer from severe forms of anxiety. Treating these disorders often involves a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, but some parents would prefer to treat their children without medication. Unfortunately, anxiety disorders and their related symptoms can complicate the already stressful business of growing up. Fortunately for parents and their children, many experts agree that medication may not be the most successful treatment of anxiety. Other options are available and may be more effective. If your child suffers from anxiety, yet you are reluctant to treat them with drugs, try one of these treatment methods instead. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

One of the most effective treatments for anxiety disorders in people of all ages is the use of cognitive behavioral therapy. It works by helping a patient change the way they process negative thought patterns. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking, so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way.” This treatment works just as well with children as it does with adults.

The process is somewhat different with children, in that they tend to process information differently than adults do. The Kids Mental Health Information Portal offers an entire section in its website titled “Cognitive Therapy for Children with Behavioral and Emotional Disorders.” The site outlines the method by which children are treated with the therapy: “With children and adolescents, cognitive therapy is focused on breaking the circle at the thought phase. Having the child focus on the thought and bringing that step in the cycle come more under his or her control can help him or her to see the fallacies in the thoughts and thus repair his or her behavior to the reality of the situation rather than continue in the avoidance behaviors that are inappropriate.” If your child is struggling with anxiety or a related disorder, find a specialist to perform Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help them restructure how they react to their affliction. 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Another intense form of therapy that aims to help children cope with their symptoms is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, also known as ACT. This method uses techniques such as mindfulness and acceptance to help people process their emotions and live with their disorder. The Association for Contextual and Behavioral Science (ACBS) defines ACT therapy as, “a unique empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility.”

This form of therapy has been used widely in the treatment of anxiety disorders, since it makes use of mindfulness techniques, which have also been shown to be successful. ACT Therapy is relatively new in the treatment of anxiety, and is currently being studied by scientists as an effective method of treatment for children. However, early studies indicate that it is a successful alternative to medication. The ACBS states, “ACT is rooted in the pragmatic philosophy of functional contextualism, a specific variety of contextualism that has as its goal the prediction and influence of events, with precision, scope and depth.” 

These and other forms of therapy may be just as successful as medication, if not more so. When your child suffers from an anxiety disorder, regular stressors such as school and a social life may be more difficult to cope with. However, the side effects of common medications might make them a less than desirable option. Finding a child psychologist or psychiatrist with experience with these forms of therapy can work wonders in treating your child effectively without medication.