Barbara J. Coffey, Amanda L. Zwilling

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Childhood anxiety disorders are traditionally treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Other anxiolytics, including benzodiazepines, antihistamines, and buspirone are also used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders in youth. Controlled studies of these anxiolytics in youth are limited. Benzodiazepines may be effective in the short-term treatment of panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder and school phobia, and in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as an adjunct to SSRIs. They may also be beneficial in treatment of anticipatory anxiety, short-term treatment of insomnia, night terrors, and sleepwalking. Buspirone is used in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder in youth, and may be beneficial in treatment of OCD and social phobia. Antihistamines have been used in the treatment of nonspecific anxiety symptoms, anticipatory and situational anxiety in youth, and induce rapid, mild sedation for the treatment of insomnia. More controlled trials in the use of anxiolytics in youth with anxiety and sleep disorders are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPharmacotherapy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Disorders
Subtitle of host publicationThird Edition
PublisherJohn Wiley and Sons
Number of pages40
ISBN (Print)9780470973769
StatePublished - Feb 17 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiolytics (Anti-Anxiety Medications)
  • Benzodiazepines, antihistamines and buspirone treatment of childhood anxiety disorders
  • Established indications for antihistamines (diphenhydramine and hydroxyzine) and buspirone in children and adolescents
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Separation Anxiety/School Refusal
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Treatment of sleep disorders (includes insomnia and parasomnia) in children and adolescents with benzodiazepines, buspirone and antihistamines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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