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Parents Prefer Counseling Over Drugs

Parents Favor Counseling For Children's Social Anxiety Disorder
WebMD Health News

Oct. 16, 2003 -- New research shows, most parents would rather send their children to a therapist than treat them with medications to relieve their anxiety.

The survey shows that parents choose this option because they may be concerned about the potential side effects of medications used to treat social anxiety in children.

Researchers say social anxiety is a common childhood disorder that can impair a child's development in many ways, such as negatively affecting their performance in school as well as their interactions with others. A variety of treatment options are available for the mental disorder, but until now little was known about parents' perceptions of those treatments. A parents' beliefs about social anxiety disorder therapies many play an essential role in how much their child benefits from treatment, says the researchers in a news release.

Parents Prefer Counseling

In the study, published in the October issue of the Journal of Development and Behavioral Pediatrics, researchers surveyed 190 randomly selected parents of children ages 8 to 17 years and asked them about their opinions of social anxiety disorder treatment and for information about their child's level of social anxiety and previous mental health therapy.

The survey showed that parents had favorable attitudes toward counseling, but they were less accepting of medication as a potential treatment. Although the overall acceptability ratings for medications were lower than for counseling, parents were not entirely opposed to medication use but were somewhat neutral.

White parents were more accepting of both medications and counseling to treat social anxiety disorder and perceived counseling as more feasible than nonwhite parents.

Researchers also found that parents who had personal experience with mental health treatment -- medication or counseling -- or had sought help for an emotional problem were least resistant to mental health treatment for their children.

The survey also revealed that parents of children with social anxiety disorder had similar treatment preferences as parents of children who did not have children with the disorder.

Researchers say the findings are in line with previous studies that have shown parents have a preference for therapy over drug use in treating childhood depression and attention deficit disorder.

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