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Home > Research Articles > Studies Show Parents, Pediatricians, And Schools Critical In Identifying And Treating Social Anxiety Disorder In Kids

Canada NewsWire

Friday, March 28, 2003

Canada NewsWire

TORONTO, Mar 27, 2003 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) -- Social anxiety disorder is very common in children and associated with significant personal impairment, yet infrequently discussed with pediatricians. Study results showed that only 30 percent of parents who had a child with social anxiety disorder had discussed their child's symptoms with a pediatrician. In contrast, parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (67 percent) and major depression (50 percent) were more likely to disclose these issues with their pediatricians. These data were presented today at the Anxiety Disorders Association of America's 23rd annual meeting here.

In a study of 190 families with children between the ages of 8-17, researchers examined rates of social anxiety disorder and other childhood disorders in a pediatric primary-care setting and assessed parents' disclosure of their child's anxiety problems to the pediatrician. Families completed questionnaires about social anxiety and associated impairment as well as a diagnostic interview by telephone.

"Despite the signs of social anxiety disorder, many children remain undiagnosed for reasons including lack of communication between parent and pediatrician, time constraints of primary care visits, discomfort discussing psychosocial concerns, and limited recognition of anxiety problems," said Denise A. Chavira, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, University of California at San Diego. "Recognizing and providing appropriate treatment recommendations for social anxiety disorders during primary care visits can have important short and long term implications."

Social anxiety disorder is particularly prevalent and debilitating in adolescence. Adolescents with social anxiety disorder have few friends, demonstrate disturbances in school function, experience difficulties with intimate relationships, and report elevated alcohol use. Research suggests significant stability of this disorder into adulthood, as well as long-term negative consequences including increased risk for suicide attempts, alcohol abuse, difficulty working, incomplete educational attainment, and depression.

"Despite the availability of effective treatments, affected youth in the community remain unlikely to receive professional help," says Carrie Masia- Warner, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the New York School of Medicine, NYU Child Study Center. "Introducing empirically based interventions into schools may help circumvent this problem." Dr. Masia- Warner was a recipient of the ADAA's Junior Faculty Grants fostering innovative research in the field of anxiety disorders. This grant supported a two-year study of social anxiety disorder in adolescents, by Dr. Masia-Warner and her colleagues, that evaluated the efficacy of a school-based behavioral intervention called Skills for Academic and Social Success (SASS; Masia-Warner et al., 1999) in comparison to a control group. Of 48 adolescents identified with social anxiety disorder, only 3 had ever sought mental health treatment for anxiety. Preliminary results of the SASS intervention are promising.

The Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) is the only national, non-profit membership organization dedicated to informing the public, healthcare professionals and legislators that anxiety disorders are real, serious and treatable. The ADAA promotes the early diagnosis, treatment and cure of anxiety disorders, and is committed to improving the lives of the people who suffer from them.

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CONTACT: For further information: Geralyn Lederman, ADAA, +1-240-485-1030, or

Deborah Adams, Hill & Knowlton, +1-212-885-0449, for ADAA

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