What are the possible long-term complications associated with untreated anxiety disorder in children and adolescents?

 

Hi Group 2,Great job with your group-facilitated discussion– I had a tough time choosing a question to focus on because I enjoyed all of your options! In addition, thank you for the informative resources.Anxiety affects a majority of our patients. Children and adolescents are without exception. I have seen children of all ages struggle with anxiety disorders at my clinical site. Anxiety can present very differently in patients depending on the specific diagnosis. A child could be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), panic disorder, agoraphobia, and other specific phobias. Symptoms can present differently from patient to patient. Some report physical symptoms (chest tightness, heart palpitations, sweating, etc) and others have more mental symptoms (persistent worrying, overthinking, indecisiveness, difficulty concentrating, etc). The prevalence rate for anxiety disorders in children is between 15% and 20% and has been linked to several negative outcomes, such as increased subsequent anxiety, major depression, drug and alcohol misuse, poor social functioning and academic underachievement (Mariotti, et al., 2021).Untreated adolescent anxiety is also more likely to persist into adulthood and develop into other mental health disorders. In fact, the majority of anxious adults report onset of anxiety prior to the age of 15 (Spence, 2018). With such long-term complications, it is clear an effective treatment is needed for adolescent/pediatric anxiety based disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found to have generally good outcomes. One study found 49.4% of children and adolescents who have had CBT to be in remission from their primary anxiety disorder at the end of treatment (Baker et al., 2021). Psychotherapy is the recommended first-line treatment for adolescents with anxiety but can also be combined with medication. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are typically the drug of choice.

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