Selective mutism (SM) is a debilitating childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a persistent lack of speech in certain social settings and is considered hard to treat. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and pharmacological treatments are the best described treatments in the literature.
To test whether there is evidence on treatment based on CBT, medication or a combination of these. Methods: Systematic and critical review of the literature on CBT and/or pharmacological treatments of SM. Literature was sought on PubMed, Embase and Psycinfo in March 2017.
Of the included studies, six examined CBT, seven pharmacologic treatment and two a combination of these. Using CBT 53/60 children improved symptomatically whilst respectively 55/67 and 6/7 improved using pharmacologic- and combination-treatment.
Pharmacologic treatment and especially CBT showed promising results supported by some degree of evidence, which combination treatment lacks. Yet small numbers, few RCTs, heterogeneous study designs, lack of consistent measures, short treatment and follow-up periods, generally limits the evidence. This needs focus in future research.
Copyright © 2018 The Nordic Psychiatric Association
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