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Hopkins study: When adult patients have anxiety disorder, their children need help too
Date:5/31/2009

In what is believed to be the first U.S. study designed to prevent anxiety disorders in the children of anxious parents, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center have found that a family-based program reduced symptoms and the risk of developing an anxiety disorder among these children.

Despite its small size, the study suggests that as few as eight weekly family sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy go a long way to prevent or minimize the psychological damage of childhood anxiety. Results of the study will appear in the June issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

"If psychiatrists or family doctors diagnose anxiety in adult patients, it's now clearly a good idea that they ask about the patients' children and, if appropriate, refer them for evaluation," says senior investigator Golda Ginsburg, Ph.D., a child psychologist at Hopkins Children's and associate professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "Right now, most doctors don't think about this, let alone broach the subject."

Ginsburg says data show that the children of parents diagnosed with an anxiety disorder are up to seven times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder themselves, and up to 65 percent of children living with an anxious parent meet criteria for an anxiety disorder.

Prevention, rather than treatment, of childhood anxiety is critical because anxiety disorders affect one in five U.S. children but often go unrecognized, according to a recent editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine. Delay in diagnosis and treatment can lead to depression, substance abuse and poor academic performance throughout childhood and well into adulthood.

The Hopkins team studied 40 children between 7 and 12 not diagnosed with anxiety themselves but who had one or both parents diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Half of the children and their families were enrolled in an eight-week cognitive behaviora
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Contact: Ekaterina Pesheva
epeshev1@jhmi.edu
410-516-4996
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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