I feel my life force being choked out of me by this anxiety. difficult child calls for me almost every night to lay down with him because he is scared. I can't leave the room or he freaks. I'm not kidding. I don't understand why this is getting worse. I have very few people in my support system and difficult child fights me on allowing them to help. He doesn't want to leave my side or go outside, do anything EVER. He even complains when I'm cleaning the house in the next room crying that I never play with him or give him my full attention.

We just started Celexa a few days ago. This may not be our answer but I *had* to try something. I spoke with the psychiatrist office and we're going to stay in touch for the next few weeks to monitor. I also think stims are in our future IF we can get the anxiety in check first. I'm afraid of stims making it worse and plus the doctor only does one medication at a time while trialing. After a couple of days I will say that he is slightly more activated (not as much as the prozac). Not sleeping as long, waking up with tons of energy. If it doesn't abate within a few weeks then I'll know this isn't my answer and we'll probably look into another class of medications.

I have put trying medications off for about three years because I didn't feel he was severe enough to justify it. Also, not having a clear cut picture of whether BiPolar (BP) might be underlying and with ADHD and anxiety requiring different treatments I wasn't prepared to experiment on his brain. Plus I allowed friends and family to talk me out of it because they felt it was a cop out or some such thing. At this point, if I don't try something, I will not feel like I'm doing everything within my power to do my best for him. It is irresponsible to not try medication interventions at this point. I am going with my gut on this one. I'm not even asking for validation. But perhaps a tad bit of encouragement that someone else out there tried Celexa for these types of symptoms and it worked.

I have come to the conclusion that on top of the ADHD and the anxiety he has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) not otherwise specified. He doesn't quite meet all the critera for aspergers BUT he has enough of them to convince me. For instance, we were in subway last night and a group of kids around his age were in front and he visibly tensed and tried to pull me out of the store. I pretended to not notice and gently pushed him into the store and he was fine. But this is something he has always done.

Sorry that I haven't been as supportive this week to you all. It's been a heck of a week and I'm going on two days of sleep deprivation and feeling like I'm at the end of my rope.




New Member
I wish I had some input for you on Celexa, but this isn't something we've tried before.

I had a hard time coming to the conclusion that my kids needed medication. I realized just like you, that I wasn't helping by not giving them medications if they needed it. Way to follow your gut! :bravo:

I hope it starts working for your son soon. (((hugs)))


I have two kids on Lexapro, which is related in chemistry to Celexa. We added it after their moods were stable on Lamictal, but they were still depressed. It has worked very well for their anxiety and depression.

Although I don't know much about Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified, I went to a lecture about medicating kids with all kinds of disorders. A psychiatrist who studies medicating kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) said he frequently uses a combination of Risperdal and Ritalin. It's just a thought for the next time you're meeting with your difficult child's psychiatrist.

Good luck.


Active Member
Yikes, I would feel like I was suffocating too! It must be really difficult for both of you.

From what I know Celexa is supposed to be the best medication to manage both anxiety and depression. I am on Lexapro, (same thing basically), and it has done wonders in helping me function normally on a day to day basis. It sounds like your psychiatrist is really in tune to things, wanting to start one medication at a time, being cautious on the stims, so it sounds like you are in good hands.

I would also, if you are not already, start doing some cognitive behavioral things with him. Maybe setting up a reward chart for him, that rewards him when he is able to be separate from you for a period of time without drama. Start small, even like being able to lie in bed for 10 minutes by himself, and then slowly, over time, you can increase the times periods. Also, have you looked into getting him into like a yoga class, or TaeKwonDo class? I know he does not want to do most activities - but yoga could help him learn to relax, and he could even take it with you - and TKD builds self confidence like no other sport, if he would go.

Just ideas. Hang in there.


Active Member
My difficult child was similar in that he presented with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) traits but didnt' meet the diagnostic criteria. Around age 5 his anxiety over every day things reached the level that it was seriously impacting every day functioning and when nothing else worked we went with Celexa. We were dealing with the seperation anxiety at bedtime as you describe as well as stuff like hysteria over everyday experiences such as water level in the tub, fire in the grill, momentarily taking one hand off the steering wheel, etc.

Celexa did relieve his anxiety within several days and I was very glad to give him relief. At the beginning I thought I noted an increase in activity level and shortly afterwards more difficulty in handling anger. Over the next 9 months both of those side effects did increase to the point where I brought it up to the doctor. He recommended an increased dose of Celexa because he felt it would help the anger control plus adding Straterra for the hyperactivity. I nixed the Stratera idea (difficult child doesn't have ADHD and I didn't want to give a second medication just to counter side effects of the first. Against my better judgment I trialed one increased dose of Celexa and had both of my suspicions confirmed. I decided then to decrease and then quit Celexa just to see where he was at. Hyperactivity ceased almost immediately, anger control improved slowly, and he also started to cry again which is something we hadn't realized Celexa had supressed in him. Anxiety flared up a little but not to the unmanagable points it had been. He'd overcome many of his previous fears and with a little extra support from us he was functioning pretty well in the anxiety area.

All anxiety hell broke loose 9 months later when he started all day first grade. We couldn't get in to see the doctor (medical leave) so I opted to try Celexa again figuring if it would help the anxiety I could deal with the side effects we knew at least temporarily. This time the side effects came on fast and hard and he started into a downward spiral which was hurried along by Zoloft which we tried next. Virtually all of his issues soared to all time high levels and I'm sorry to say it took a year until he was back to near baseline again.

I don't mean to discourage you because any of the SSRI's can be great medications for the right person. My difficult child obviously wasn't that person. If you note any side effects or rapid behavioral changes, see the psychiatrist immediately. Doubly so if he's had negative side effects to any previous SSRI medications.

After that experience we were way too frightened and exhausted to trial any more medications, and here are some of the things that helped the anxiety area. Obviously we had to do a lot more because we had an out of control child on our hands whose every issue had been exacerbated by anxiety.

1) difficult child needed to have some connection to me at all times, until he was emotionally well again and could stand on his own two feet. I told him in advance when I was leaving the room, took him with me when I could, made sure he understood I was available by cell phone at all times when we were seperated. As for sleep, I got it whenever and whereever I could because when I was tired I couldn't cope with him...well, I couldn't cope really great when I was rested but it was better. In a nutshell, what my difficult child needed was a period of security after being so emotionally upset by anxiety.

2) We looked for ways to make transitions easier. He was panicking at school drop off (and perservating before we left) and finally I made a list of what I was to do in his good bye routine. I took it out every morning and carried it with me. When the panic or obsessions took over, I'd whip out the list and remind him that I was going to worry about this so he wouldn't have to.

I also found that having some kind of daily tangible connection with me helped. Every morning he'd select two small stuffed dogs and choose one to give me and one to hang on his backpack to go to school with him. I took that pet with me in my purse or pocket or van through my day and then at the end of the day I'd tell him where we'd been and what we'd been doing. This is a simple thing which I've shared before--I think it was Andrea Danielle who reported good results with this as well.

3) We looked for every possible way to empower difficult child to handle anxiety situations. Panic over water level=using permanent marker to write on the tub stall how to turn off the water. Noise too loud= wear ear plugs or ear phones. Need a break from class=give a card to your teacher telling her you need a break. Afraid of being in the basement=practicing calling mom through the baby monitor. Children with anxiety feel totally powerless against this monster in their life and it's critical to find them ways to take charge, often starting in small ways.

4) My difficult child started totally shutting down in terms of not wanting to leave the house. I wound up using incentives to keep him going to school part time (while homeschooling the other part of the day) and I don't know that I'd use incentives to that degree again. The other thing I did was to take him out once a week on sort of a date night just to keep him going places. The deal was that I got to pick once place and then he got to pick one. At first I started with familiar places I knew would be easier on him (like Toys R Us or the bookstore cafe) and when he started improving I expanded that. He got to choose whatever after we'd done my thing.

difficult child just started 5th grade without notable signs of anxiety. He's been medication free for all of that time. I won't pretend it's been easy--it was a big drain on the family in those early months. and had there been some guarantee that a medication would work there were times I would have gone for it but I would have had to be desperater than desperate (or not seen any signs of progress long term) to go that route again. difficult child does still show signs of anxiety from time to time but they've been managable. I also know that could change any day.

Good luck with this and keep us posted.


My daughter was younger than your difficult child when her separation anxiety was at it's worse (she was 4), but it continued for years so I know exactly what you're going through. She slept in my bed until she was 10 years old. Then we put the mattress from the trundle in her daybed on the floor in my room and she slept there for about 6 months or more until she finally started sleeping in her room again. When she first returned to her room, she didn't stay there all night, she would wake up during the night and come back into my room, but eventually that stopped. Now she won't even consider sleeping in my bed, although sometimes she'll sleep on the couch if I'm still up and she's feeling anxious, but it's not often. She is on lexapro, but I got her back in her room prior to starting the lexapro. She didn't respond to the lexapro, though, the way your kiddo is. She was much calmer almost immediately. While it takes several weeks for the full effect with depression, the anxiety portion starts to work almost immediately according to her psychiatrist and we saw that.

Not everyone is comfortable with their child sleeping in their bed, but for me it was a non-issue. I had to have sleep, she had to have sleep and she needed some comfort. It wasn't a permanent solution, just a temporary fix until we could build up her inner resources enough that she could manage it.


THANK YOU all so much. I am so grateful for your wisdom and sharing. I feel so supported right now. What an incredible group of women you are. But I also feel bad that I haven't had time for giving back this week. I will write more soon. I'm pretty spread thin these days with life and my difficult child who won't let me leave the room (the computer is in the basement). My next purchase will be a laptop so I can stay connected to all of you as I need you right now so much.


Roll With It
I wonder what some of the more traditional anti-anxiety medications would do? Your difficult child has shown signs that SSRI medications are not right for him at this age, wonder if something like xanax or ativan would help? They are just for anxiety, not the depression. If you have problems with the celexa maybe ask your doctor about these medications. If possible, maybe ask the psychiatrist for a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication to give as needed. Sometimes something above the celexa may be needed.