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Combined Treatment Best for Kids Who Skip School

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"Being able to refer to a nice study like this gives caregivers much more to offer parents in terms of saying 'we have good reason to believe [your child] will get better.' Clinicians [now] actually have real data [to help them decide what] to offer children and their families," Elliott says.

But learning why kids are refusing to go to school is the first step, Mae Sokol, MD, tells WebMD. "One kid may have a totally different reason than the next [for skipping school]. Don't rush to your doctor and beg for [Tofranil],"she says. "Go to your doctor and ask for help. Try therapy first; medication is just a useful addition." Sokol is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kan.

Because of the potential for serious side effects, children on Tofranil must be monitored closely, especially when used in combination with other antidepressants.

Vital Information:

  • Refusal to go to school is a relatively common occurrence, affecting one out of every 100 children and adolescents. In depressed or anxious kids, that number is much higher -- as high as one in four, and in some cases even greater, experts say.
  • A new study shows that behavioral therapy in combination with medication can help these adolescents return to school, but depression may persist.
  • Researchers encourage parents to seek help, find out why the child doesn't want to go to school, and try therapy before using a medication.
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