June 2, 2009

Anxiety Disorder in Families

Here's some information that will make you anxious: children of parents diagnosed with an anxiety disorder are up to seven times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder themselves. But researchers from Johns Hopkins found a family-based program can reduce the symptoms and risks of anxiety among these children.

As few as eight weekly sessions, aimed at identifying anxiety-provoking behavior and teaching coping and problem-solving skills, proved effective at preventing or reducing anxiety in children of anxious adults. Within one year, 30 percent of children who received no psychological therapy were diagnosed with anxiety disorder, compared to none of the children who received therapy.

"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," Golda Ginsburg, Ph.D., a child psychologist at Hopkins Children's and associate professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, was quoted as saying. "Right now, most doctors don't think about this, let alone broach the subject."

The Hopkins Children's researchers are currently conducting a larger study on 100 families. Interested parents can obtain more information by emailing [email protected].

SOURCE: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2009