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Children of Anxious Parents More Likely to Develop Anxiety

Anxiety can be a debilitating disposition, especially for children. While children suffering from anxiety are at risk for other complications, little research has been done in the area of anxiety disorders in children who have anxious parents.

A new study from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center changes that, offering insight into this phenomenon. Science Daily recently shared a release that focused on this research, thought to be the first U.S. study designed to prevent anxiety disorders in the children of anxious parents.

During this study, researchers determined that family-based programs reduced symptoms and the risk of developing an anxiety disorder among these at-risk children. The findings from this study suggest that as few as eight weekly family sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy can make a significant difference for the child.

“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,” said senior investigator Golda Ginsburg, Ph.D., in Science Daily.

Ginsburg is 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.”

According to industry data, children of parents diagnosed with an anxiety disorder are up to seven times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder of their own. In addition, as many as 65 percent of children living with an anxious parent meet the criteria for a anxiety disorder.

This information is important because many children deal with anxiety, yet it goes unnoticed in one in five U.S. children. When diagnosis and treatment are delayed, the child can develop depression, substance abuse and poor academic performance.

There is still hope.

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