Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Mental Health Center

Font Size

New Support for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT Helps Half of Kids With Anxiety Disorders
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 19, 2005 -- Cognitive behavioral therapy helps children and teens suffering from anxiety disorders.

That's the judgment of a Cochrane review, widely considered the gold-standard rating system for medical treatments. Cochrane reviews evaluate whether clinical studies provide enough first-rate evidence to say a treatment truly works.

Cognitive behavioral therapy -- or CBT -- is a brief form of psychotherapy. Using specific, step-by-step techniques, it teaches patients skill sets that allow them to change the ways they think and act.

CBT treatments for anxiety, for example, teach patients skills to help them deal with anxiety-provoking situations. Patients are then gradually exposed -- either in imagination or in real life -- to the things that make them anxious or fearful.

Psychiatrist Anthony James, MD, senior lecturer at the University of Oxford in England, and colleagues analyzed 13 clinical studies of CBT in children and teens with mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders. The results:

  • 56% of children and teens got better, vs. 28% of kids in untreated groups.
  • Children and teens treated with CBT averaged 58% fewer symptoms of anxiety.
  • Three kids must be treated with CBT to cure one case of anxiety disorder.

"Cognitive-behavioral therapy does work for children with anxiety disorders," James tells WebMD. "It probably compares favorably with the effects of drug treatment. CBT probably should be offered as a first-line treatment where therapists are available to deliver it."

No Cure-All

James says the studies offer "robust" support for CBT as a treatment for pediatric anxiety. He gets no argument from Jennifer Hagman, MD, associate professor of psychiatry with the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and co-director of the eating disorders treatment program at The Children's Hospital, Denver.

"Fifty percent improvement in symptoms is really pretty good," Hagman says. "In clinical practice, patients do very well with goal-oriented therapy that teaches specific skills. And the outcomes are very strong in the studies where a consistent approach is used."

While CBT clearly benefits patients, James warns that it is not a cure-all.

"There is no panacea," he says. "Cognitive behavioral therapy is a collaborative treatment that does appear to work in all of its various formats. But there is still room for improvement. A good percentage of patients do not improve. That may be the group for whom combined CBT and drug therapy is most effective."

Hagman points to recent clinical trials suggesting that, at least for some patients, CBT can be more effective when combined with medication.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
lunar eclipse
Signs of mania and depression.
man screaming
Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
woman looking into fridge
When food controls you.
Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
senior man eating a cake
woman reading medicine warnings
depressed young woman
man with arms on table
man cringing and covering ears

WebMD Special Sections