Washington, June 1 (IANS) A family-based programme helped reduce symptoms and the risk of developing an anxiety disorder among children of anxious parents, according to a recent study.
Despite its small size, the Johns Hopkins Children Centre study suggests that as few as eight weekly family sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy go a long way to prevent or minimise the psychological damage of childhood anxiety.
'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 Golda Ginsburg, child psychologist at Hopkins Children.
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. 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 US children but often go unrecognised, according to 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 aged between seven and 12 years not diagnosed with anxiety themselves but who had one or both parents diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
These findings will appear in the June issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.