As children reach their adolescent years they could have a strong chance of developing an anxiety disorder if they have genetic vulnerability or grow up in an anxiety producing environment. Because of the many factors that can contribute to children possibly dealing with anxiety problems, preventative treatment can prove beneficial in reducing early symptoms of anxiety and halt the development of a full-fledged disorder.
Because anxiety disorders tend to run in families it can be helpful for parents to take advantage of early childhood therapy so that they do not have to see their children develop the same issues that they experience. Family therapy sessions can help to address how the child handles fears and stress so that they can be stable and balanced as they grow into adulthood.
Research on Preventative Therapy
A recent study proved that early preventative therapy can be instrumental allowing children to grow up without issues of anxiety. Researchers worked with 136 families where at least one parent had an anxiety disorder and their child between the ages of 6 and 13 did not have a mental illness. Half of the families in the study were given eight family therapy sessions while the others were given a handout describing symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
One year later the children were assessed for anxiety disorders and the group without therapy had 31 percent of their children diagnosed with anxiety. Out of the group that received therapy only 5 percent of their children were found to have an anxiety disorder. The study suggests that rather than waiting for an anxiety disorder to develop and then following up with therapy, parents could provide kids with preventative care that would keep them in good mental health throughout their childhood.
Reducing Factors that Influence Anxiety
Taking a proactive approach to mental health could be a model that follows other types of preventative health care. Children receive doctor’s check-ups and dental cleanings every six months to prevent illness and mental health care can be administered in a similar way. For children who are especially at risk because of genetic factors, using a preventative model can put their parent’s minds at ease and improve the child’s chances of growing up with a more stable emotional life.
When parents have an anxiety disorder, their condition can influence a child not only in terms of inheriting a predisposition but also because of environmental factors. As children see anxious behavior in their parents they tend to imitate and take on these traits as they grow up. Parents showing signs of worry or constantly telling children to be careful can lead to issues of anxiety in their offspring. In therapy, children can learn to face their fears and manage them instead of avoiding them. Parents can start to work with children through the skills they learn in family therapy to help young ones handle their emotions more effectively.
Preventative mental health could be a promising solution to help avoid the level of mental illness that can interfere with people’s lives. Millions of people now suffer from anxiety disorders and must receive treatment in the form of medication and therapy. Instead of treating people after they have already lived with anxiety for years, targeting anxiety symptoms early on with preventative therapy can help stop these issues from developing. A new approach to mental health could improve the experience of children as they grow up and allow them to live a more stable and balanced adulthood in the future. Parents who get more involved in their child’s mental health can see them succeed in handling and effectively managing their emotions.