For Many Kids, Anxiety Persists Into Adulthood Even With Treatment

Posted on July 4, 2018

Pediatric anxiety disorders are common psychiatric illnesses, affecting approximately 10 percent of children. Past research discovered that 12 weeks of sertraline (brand name Zoloft) and/or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) were effective in reducing anxiety and improving functioning. Now, in a new 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.

The investigators discovered 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. Thirty 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.

From 2011 through 2015, the study followed 319 young people aged 10 to 25 who had been diagnosed with separation, social, or general anxiety. 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.

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. They recommend including treatments that are more durable, and using 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 PsychCentral

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