Question: How useful are antianxiety medications for treating pediatric depression?
Answer: Antianxiety medications can potentially be very, very useful for the treatment of depression in children and adolescents. That's for two reasons. One is that anxiety commonly accompanies depression in all levels of the lifespan whether you're a child or adult.
So, treating that anxiety will often make the depression get better. That would be using medicines that have antianxiety properties such as benzodiazepines, medicines like Klonopin, Atavan, and some atypical antianxiety medicines such as Buspar. In addition, the very same agents that are often used to treat depression, the SSRIs and the tricyclic antidepressants clearly have antianxiety properties associated with them.
So, it may be that when children or adolescents respond to treatment, pharmacologic treatment with medicines such as the SSRIs or the tricyclics, they're responding because of both the antidepressant efficacy as well as the effectiveness in decreasing the anxiety.