For Anxiety, A Single Intervention Is Not Enough

Posted on June 1, 2018

A new study followed 319 young people aged 10 to 25 who had been diagnosed with separation, social, or general anxiety disorders at sites in California, North Carolina, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. They received evidence-based treatment with either sertraline (the generic form of Zoloft) or cognitive behavioral therapy or a combination of these two, and then had follow-ups with the researchers every year for four years. The follow-ups assessed anxiety levels but did not provide treatment.

The sequential follow-ups allowed researchers to identify people who relapsed, recovered, and relapsed again, as well as people who stayed anxious and people who stayed well. They found that 20 percent of patients got well after treatment and stayed well, rating low on anxiety at each follow-up. However, about half the patients relapsed at least once, and 30 percent were chronically anxious, meeting the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder at every follow-up. Females were more likely to be chronically ill than males. Other predictors of chronic illness were experiencing more negative life events, having poor family communication, and having a diagnosis of social phobia.

On a more optimistic note, the study found that young people who responded to treatment were more likely to stay well. The study also found no difference in long-term outcomes between treatment types. This means that if there is no cognitive behavioral therapist nearby, treatment with medication is just as likely to be effective in the long run.

Finally, the study also found that kids did better if their families were supportive and had positive communication styles. According to UConn Health psychologist Golda Ginsburg, regular mental health checkups may be a better way to treat anxiety instead of the current model being used, and that we must be aware that a single intervention may not be enough.

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

Source material from Science Daily

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