New research shows that less than half of children and young adults who are treated for anxiety disorders will achieve long-term relief from symptoms.
In the study (subscription required), researchers at Johns Hopkins Children's Center and five other institutions conducted a long-term analysis of nearly 300 patients, ages 11 to 26, treated with medication, cognitive behavioral therapy or a combination of the two. Individuals received treatment for three months and followed, on average, for six years. Results showed 47 percent were anxiety-free by the end of the follow-up period and nearly 70 percent required some form of occasional mental health treatment.
A story published today in U.S. News and World Report discusses the significance of the findings:
"The study underscores the chronic nature of psychiatric illnesses and illustrates the importance of the pressing need to study and support mental health treatments across the age and demographic spectrum," said Dr. Aaron Krasner, adolescent transitional living program chief at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Conn. "Anxiety, a common condition by most epidemiologic estimates, is understudied and undertreated, especially in the pediatric population," he said.
[Lead investigator Golda Ginsburg, PhD and her] team believe their findings also highlight the importance of close follow-up and monitoring of symptoms among children, teens and young adults who've been treated for anxiety, even if they seem to be getting better.
"Our findings are encouraging in that nearly half of these children achieved significant improvement and were disease-free an average of six years after treatment, but at the same time we ought to look at the other half who didn't fare so well and figure out how we can do better," Ginsburg, who is also professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a Hopkins news release.
"Just because a child responds well to treatment early on, doesn't mean our work is done and we can lower our guard," she added.
Previously: Anxious children’s brains are different from those of other kids, New research tracks “math anxiety” in the brain and Fear leads to creation of new neurons, new emotional memories