Childhood anxiety can be prevented with early intervention

Sep 20, 2010

A team of researchers from Macquarie University has found that early intervention with parents of children at risk for anxiety and related disorders can potentially make the difference in whether a child will go on to develop anxiety-related illnesses later.

Their findings were recently published in the online advance copy of the prestigious which comes out in December.

The study, led by Dr. Ron Rapee, Director of the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University, also showed that three years after parents received the intervention, their children were still showing lower frequency and severity of .

Anxiety disorders are among the most common forms of mental illness in early to middle childhood. Developmentally, the common pattern is for anxiety to precede depression. Depression begins to show a dramatic increase around middle adolescence with children and adolescents, who already have an anxiety disorder, at greater risk of developing depression during adolescence and early adulthood.

However, Rapee and the research team found that with a parent-focused intervention at an early stage when children first begin to exhibit characteristics of anxiety, the trajectory can be reversed.

Dr. Rapee said the treatment program is relatively inexpensive and simple.

“It’s a program that governments and community groups can invest in,” he said.

The characteristics seen in children at risk of developing anxiety include behaviour inhibition, social withdrawal and shyness. These children are at greater risk for later internalising distress and more specifically developing anxiety disorders, Dr. Rapee said.

Several factors seem to be involved in the development of childhood anxiety. Twin studies point to a clear genetic risk in addition to . Parental factors in childhood anxiety both through the influence of the parents’ own anxiety and through parent-child interactions also play a role.

Explore further: Women, poor, uninsured face higher risk of psychological distress: CDC

Related Stories

Childhood anxiety disorders can and should be treated

Dec 24, 2008

Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents should be recognized and treated to prevent educational underachievement and adult substance abuse, anxiety disorders and depression, says a nationally recognized child psychiatrist ...

Youth's social problems contribute to anxiety and depression

Mar 25, 2008

Socially successful children tend to have fewer symptoms of anxiety or depression, while children with problems such as anxiety and depression tend to have difficulties forming relationships and being accepted by friends. ...

Recommended for you

The new normal? Addressing gun violence in America

9 hours ago

Article Spotlight features summaries written in collaboration with authors of recently published articles by the Journals Program of the American Psychological Association. The articles are nominated by the editors as noteworthy ...

Demi Lovato gets vocal about mental illness

13 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Demi Lovato huddled in the back of her tour bus, eyes wet with tears as she watched a horde of fans streaming into the venue where she was about to play.

Acquiring 'perfect' pitch may be possible for some adults

13 hours ago

If you're a musician, this sounds too good to be true: University of Chicago psychologists have been able to train some adults to develop the prized musical ability of absolute pitch, and the training's effects ...

How men and women see each other when online dating

15 hours ago

In the world of online dating, nothing is as it seems. But that doesn't stop many of us from leaping to the wrong conclusions about people. A recent paper presented at the Annual Conference of the International ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.