Fewer than half of all children and young adults treated for anxiety achieve long-term relief from symptoms, according to study by investigators from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and five other institutions.
Results of the federally-funded research were published online today in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
According to investigators, the results of the study underscore the importance of vigilant follow-up and rigorous monitoring of symptoms among anxious patients. The results also point to the need for better long-term management of a condition estimated to affect one in five children in the United States—a condition which, according to researchers, can lead to depression, substance abuse, and poor academic performance well into adulthood.
Anxiety is the result of a complex interplay between genes and environment, the researchers say. And while there's not much to be done about one's genetic makeup, controlling external factors can go a long way toward mitigating or preventing anxiety.
The study involved 288 patients, ages 11 to 26, diagnosed with and treated for anxiety for three months, then followed for an average of six years thereafter.
"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," says lead investigator Golda Ginsburg, a psychologist at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The study is believed to be the first long-term analysis of children treated with a variety of therapeutic approaches.Read more from Hopkins Medicine