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Medicineworld.org: Take care of that childhood anxiety disorder

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Take care of that childhood anxiety disorder




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 psychiatry expert from UT Southwestern Medical Center.

In an editorial appearing in the Dec. 25 issue of New England Journal (NEJM), Dr. Graham Emslie, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at UT Southwestern, urges awareness that children need to be treated for anxiety disorders and recommends that related empirical evidence be integrated into therapy guidelines.



Take care of that childhood anxiety disorder
Dr. Graham Emslie reports that anxiety disorders in children and adolescents should be recognized and treated to help prevent educational underachievement, substance abuse and mental disorders in adulthood.

Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center

"Anxiety disorders may cause children to avoid social situations and age-appropriate developmental milestones," said Dr. Emslie. "Further, the avoidance cycle can lead to less opportunity to develop social skills necessary for success during the later part of life. Treatment would help children learn healthy coping skills".

Up to 20 percent of children and adolescents are affected by persistent and excessive worry that can manifest as generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder and social phobia. Research has shown that failure to identify these disorders early leads to educational underachievement and increased rates of anxiety disorders, depression and substance abuse during the later part of life.

Only with the adaptation of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition did the mental health community recognize that adult anxiety disorders have origins in childhood, wrote Dr. Emslie, the first psychiatry expert to demonstrate that antidepressants are effective in depressed children and adolescents.

Anxiety disorders in children are frequently unrecognized because they may only report physical aches and appears to be unable to verbalize "worry" or "fear," said Dr. Emslie, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Children's Medical Center Dallas.

The editorial accompanies a study in the same issue of the journal by senior author John Walkup of Johns Hopkins Medical Institute. The pivotal research, which was conducted at seven medical institutions across the U.S., was the first study to directly compare medicine therapy, cognitive behavioral treatment that examines thinking patterns in order to modify behavior, and the combination of both therapys in children and teens with anxiety disorders. The results showed that antidepressant medications and cognitive behavioral treatment were equally effective therapys for anxiety and that the combination of both therapys was most effective.

Dr. Emslie said he hopes future studies will build on this work to determine what type to therapy is best for individual patients.

"Partial therapy is not adequate," he said. "If children aren't treated to the point of complete remission, they are likely to relapse. It's imperative that we help children overcome their anxiety disorders for their own lifetime good."


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Did you know?
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 psychiatry expert from UT Southwestern Medical Center. In an editorial appearing in the Dec. 25 issue of New England Journal (NEJM), Dr. Graham Emslie, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at UT Southwestern, urges awareness that children need to be treated for anxiety disorders and recommends that related empirical evidence be integrated into therapy guidelines.

Medicineworld.org: Take care of that childhood anxiety disorder

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