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Study Finds Treating Parents for Anxiety Reduces Panic Attacks for their Children

Update Date: Oct 23, 2013 04:36 PM EDT

Children can learn from adults really quickly, whether it is academic information or behavioral habits. In a new study, researchers examined the effects that parents with anxiety disorders have on their young and impressionable children. The researchers found that if parents got treated for their panic attacks, their children will be less likely to have them as well.

For this study, the researchers looked at 43 parents, 38 of them were mothers. All of the parents were diagnosed with parental panic disorder (PD) with or without agoraphobia, which is the fear of outdoor environments. There were 54 children involved in the study with 31 of them being girls. The children's mean age was 12 and the mean age of the mothers was 39.6 years. The researchers observed the parents and children's symptoms of psychopathology before and after they administered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat the PD.

35 of the 43 parents received CBT while eight forgo treatment until the follow-up, which took place between four and 10 years after the treatment. During the follow-up, the researchers found that 96.7 percent of the people who received panic treatment, equivalent to 29 parents, were no longer diagnosed with PD. During the follow-up period, researchers noted that six parents did not undergo treatment. The researchers found that 66.7 percent of the people who never got treatment continued to have symptoms of PD. The team also found that the level of success parents had with their PD was tied to their children's anxiety. Children of parents who had success with the panic treatment had improved anxiety sensitivity and agoraphobic cognitions six years after their parents finished treatment.

The researchers concluded that getting treated for PD successfully could improve the quality of life for children. The study, "Panic Treatment Reduces Children's Long-Term Psychopathology: A Prospective Longitudinal Study," was published in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

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