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"Therapy plus Zoloft helps kids ease anxiety"

Globe and Mail

Source: Globe and Mail

Published: 30 Oct 2021

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (3 stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

CHICAGO - A popular antidepressant plus three months of psychotherapy dramatically helped children with anxiety disorders, the most common psychiatric illnesses in kids, the biggest study of its kind found.

The research also offers comfort to parents worried about putting their child on powerful drugs - therapy alone did a lot of good, too...

The original article can be found at:

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 6 of 10
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Not Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

Any story that leads with the statement "dramatically helped children" merits some closer attention.
This story is not badly written as it covers four arms of an important study investigating the best treatments for kids with anxiety. What we are not sure about from the story is what is being measured. The reader derives no sense of clarity over the statement of "much improved" when the reporter says they say "combined-treatment group, 81 per cent of children were much improved by three months, compared with 60 per cent in the therapy-only group."

The benefits of the treatment are quantified but we have no idea if these "much improved" increases represent a clinical difference or not. (what was the psychiatric scale used?) The known dangers of this class of drugs, in children, was appropriately reported, but the potential side effects of the drugs seemed to be downplayed when the reporter writes: "There was only one serious 'adverse event' considered possibly linked to treatment - worsening behavior in a child on drug treatment only." Without knowing how many kids had benefited, this one child's adverse experiences do not have any context.

Furthermore, the anxiety disorder is described as keeping children from sleeping in their own beds, from attending school and from socializing with other children- these are quite serious implications for a disorder that "affects 20% of U.S. children". The article appears to exaggerate the prevalence/incidence of this condition and thus borders on disease mongering.

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