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Childhood anxiety disorders can and should be treated, according to UT Southwestern national expert
Date:12/24/2008

DALLAS 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 from UT Southwestern Medical Center.

In an editorial appearing in the Dec. 25 issue of New England Journal of Medicine, 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 treatment guidelines.

"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 later in 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 later in 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 psychiatrist 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 may 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
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Contact: LaKisha Ladson
lakisha.ladson@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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Childhood anxiety disorders can and should be treated, according to UT Southwestern national expert
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