Childhood anxiety disorders should be treated, says expert

December 25th, 2008 - 5:00 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 25 (ANI): There is an urgent need to recognise and treat anxiety disorders in children that otherwise might lead to educational underachievement, substance abuse and mental disorders in adulthood, according to a leading child psychiatrist from UT Southwestern Medical Centre.

While writing in New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Graham Emslie said that anxiety disorders in children are frequently unrecognised because they may only report physical aches and may be unable to verbalize “worry” or “fear.”

“Anxiety disorders may cause children to avoid social situations and age-appropriate developmental milestones,” said 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, the expert added.

Previous 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.

The editorial accompanied a study led by John Walkup of Johns Hopkins Medical Institute compared medication treatment, cognitive behavioural therapy that examines thinking patterns in order to modify behaviour, and the combination of both treatments in children and teens with anxiety disorders.

The results showed that antidepressant medications and cognitive behavioural therapy were equally effective treatments for anxiety and that the combination of both treatments was most effective.

Emslie said he hopes future studies will help determine what type to treatment is best for individual patients. (ANI)

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