The DSM-IV classifies anxiety disorders in children into four categories, namely social anxiety, over-anxious disorder, phobias and separation anxiety. Only separation anxiety, a fear of losing a loved one or a close attachment, has been reasonably well studied from the point of view of drug treatment. School phobia is perhaps the most severe form of separation anxiety and there are several trials to show that imipramine, in daily doses of up to 5mg/kg, is effective. Many patients require drug treatment for at least 6 to 8 weeks before an optimal response is achieved. Frequently, children remain symptom free after a 3-4 month course of treatment. In addition to the usual anticholinergic effects of imipramine, it should be noted that children are often susceptible to withdrawal symptoms such as nausea and gastrointestinal spasm. This may be reduced if the drug is slowly withdrawn over a 2-week period.
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