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Safe Use of Guanfacine for Anxiety in Children

written by: Emma Lloyd•edited by: Paul Arnold•updated: 10/31/2009

While this particular drug is most often prescribed for high blood pressure in adults, a doctor may also suggest guanfacine for anxiety in children.

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    Information about Guanfacine

    Guanfacine is the generic name for a brand-name drug called Tenex. This drug is most often prescribed as a blood-pressure lowering agent for people with hypertension. It may be prescribed alone or in conjunction with other blood pressure-lowering medications.

    In addition, this medication may be prescribed for people who suffer from migraines, or who are going through drug withdrawal.

    People who take guanfacine for high blood pressure should make sure they do not stop taking this medication without first consulting their doctor. The medication controls high blood pressure but does not cure it, so suddenly stopping the medication may cause a dangerous rise in blood pressure.

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    Guanfacine for Anxiety in Children

    The most common use of this drug is for hypertension, but sometimes a doctor may prescribe guanfacine for anxiety in children. This medication can be an effective treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in some children, and can also treat anxiety, manage some symptoms of Tourette’s, and improve sleeping patterns.

    These multiple actions of the drug are to do with the way in which it interacts with the central nervous system. Guanfacine acts in the prefrontal cortex of the brain to reduce sensitivity to certain stimuli. This can help a child or adult with ADHD improve their ability to focus, and help reduce a child’s reaction to stimuli which cause anxiety.

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    Important Information for Safe Use of Guanfacine

    • Taking guanfacine can cause a wide range of side effects. Not all of these are applicable to children. Low doses (under two milligrams) tend to cause very few side effects.

    • Common side effects of taking guanfacine may include drowsiness, dizziness, headache, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, and loss of appetite.

    • Rare side effects may include difficulty breathing, burred vision, skin rash, hand or foot swelling, yellowing of skin or eyes, and chest pain.

    • Vision changes, taste changes, leg cramps, tinnitus, dry mouth, tingling sensations in feet or hands, and decreased libido may also occur.

    • Children should not have easy access to the medication, even if they have been prescribed it, due to the risk of serious complications resulting from accidental overdose. A child who is taking guanfacine should be given each dose as they need it, with the remainder of the medication locked away at all times.
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    Guanfacine Information at

    Guanfacine Information at

    National Institute of Health MedlinePlus: Guanfacine