Less Than A Quarter of Youths Previously Treated with Anxiety Disorders Stay Anxiety-Free

Posted on June 29, 2018

Pediatric anxiety disorders are common psychiatric illnesses, affecting approximately 10 percent of children. In one of the largest comparative treatment studies, researchers found that 12 weeks of sertraline and/or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) were effective in reducing anxiety and improving functioning. In this newly released follow-up study, researchers re-contacted these youths an average of six years later and then re-assessed them annually for up to four additional years.

Researchers found that 22 percent of youth who received 12 weeks of treatment for an anxiety disorder stayed in remission over the long term, meaning they did not meet diagnostic criteria for any anxiety disorder (defined as any DSM-IV TR anxiety disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder). 30 percent of youth who had received treatment remained chronically ill, meeting diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder during each year of follow-up, and 48 percent relapsed, meaning they met diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder at some, but not all follow-ups.

Specifically, 319 youth and young-adults were followed from 2011 through 2015. The researchers conducted annual evaluations that assessed, among other factors, diagnoses, school and social functioning, and service use. Findings indicated that at each follow-up year, approximately half of the youth remained in remission. When examined across all years of the follow-up, that number dropped to 22 percent, while 30 percent continued to meet criteria for an anxiety disorder at every annual evaluation.

The researchers concluded that while it may be optimistic to expect that 12 weeks of treatment resulted in long-term remission, it is now clear that more needs to be done to help anxious youth -- including treatments that are more durable and a better mental health wellness model that includes regular check-ups to prevent relapse and improve outcomes over time.


Category(s):Anxiety, Child and/or Adolescent Issues

Source material from Science Daily


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