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Lisa Black

A Pediatrics study, “Trends in Office-Based Anxiety Treatment among U.S. Children, Youth, and Young Adults: 2006-2018,” found a significant increase in children and teens diagnosed with anxiety during office visits but a decrease in the proportion receiving therapy, which included counseling or psychotherapy. The study, published in the July 2023 Pediatrics (published online June 7) found the likelihood of a patient receiving medication alone during office visits significantly increased over time. Researchers analyzed data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and examined anxiety disorder diagnosis and four treatment categories (therapy alone, therapy and medications, medications alone, or neither) described across three periods (2006-2009, 2010-2013, 2014-2018). Anxiety disorder for children increased from 1.4%, or 9,246,921 total visits, in 2006-2009 to 4.2%, or 23,120,958 total visits, in 2014-2018. The proportion of visits with any therapy decreased from 48.8% to 32.6% during those time periods. Although there was no change in the proportion of visits receiving medication, the absolute number of children and youth receiving medications during increased. As a result, more patients overall were receiving either no treatment or only medication during the last period. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition among children, adolescents, and young adults. The authors suggest that decline in therapy and the greater reliance on medications for anxiety disorders may reflect growing resource constraints in office settings within the context of a child and youth mental health crisis that has been building over time.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

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