CAN ANXIETY IN CHILDREN BE PREVENTED?

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girl-56721_1280Historically, mental health research (unlike traditional medicine) has often focused on treatment rather than prevention, but a recent study has yielded some important findings on anxiety prevention.

Children are placed at greater risk of developing mental health disorders if one of their parents suffer from one. This can often be attributed to learned behaviour. For example a child that sees their parent become anxious when flying can develop their own level of fear and apprehension when in that same environment. In my own practice I have treated a number of clients whose anxiety, low confidence and depression mirrored that of their parent/s or sibling. However, a study published last week by the American Journal of Psychiatry found that passing on your anxiety to your child is not inevitable.

The study enlisted 136 families. Each family had at least one parent with an anxiety disorder (such as OCD, social phobia, generalised anxiety or panic disorder) and a child between the age of 6 -13 with no anxiety disorder. Half of the families received specialist treatment through cognitive behavioural therapy and the other half were given a pamphlet on anxiety disorders. The children’s anxiety levels were measured before the study, 8 weeks after and 6 and 12 months later. A year after the study, 5% of children in the CBT treatment group had developed an anxiety disorder whereas 31% in the pamphlet group had. This is a replication of a similar study performed in 2009 and the results are almost identical.

The study poses an important question: should we wait until a child already has a mental illness or could more be done to prevent a mental health disorder from developing in those that are at risk? If you are a parent suffering from a mental health issue, there is help available and it is worth speaking to your GP. This study can also bring you hope that your children could be prevented from inheriting your mental health disorder.

In my 15 years experience in the mental health field, I have treated depression and anxiety with both CBT and hypnosis and in my experience curative hypnotherapy has provided the most effective treatment as it works at the root cause of the problem. Curative hypnotherapy aims to identify and correct the reason why the anxiety exists so as to not only dispose of the symptoms but also ensure that they do not return. For further information on curative hypnotherapy please visit What Is Curative Hypnotherapy. Alternatively, contact Susannah to find out more.