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Effects of SAD Symptoms, Exhibited by Parents, on Children

November 8, 2012

A new study out of Johns Hopkins University Medical Center has revealed that children of parents with social anxiety disorder (SAD) have a much higher chance of developing SAD themselves, than do children of parents without the disorder. The relationship seems to be an obvious one, but one that had not been studied extensively until now. The study examined 66 anxious parents and their children between the ages of 7 and 12, finding that nearly one third of the these children had SAD. Certain parental behaviors, such as lack of warmth and extreme doubt, create anxious environments for their children. Despite the fact that anxiety is not inherited through genes, there are environmental factors that can raise a child’s propensity to having the disorder. Currently, SAD effects one in every five children in the United States. This rate, which seems frighteningly high to me, is especially scary because SAD has been linked to more serious things such as depression and substance abuse later in life.

Creating a safe, stress-free home environment now seems more important than ever. I think the most important part would be to start with the parents, and have every child’s primary care physician relate to the parents the extreme importance of anxiety-related parental behaviors. With education about the disorder and the increased propensity of their children developing it, these parents could create a safe environment for their children, and prevent the “genetic mechanisms responsible for the disease” from being unlocked.

As the economic state of our country remains at a dismal level, the rate of anxiety and depression type disorders is sure to increase, and has since the 2008 economic crisis. Doctors need to be especially vigilant in making sure that parents know the risks that SAD poses to their children, and that they do their best to prevent any and all environmental factors from being triggered. As someone who is in my early 20’s, and wants to have a family by my late 20’s or early 30’s, the thought of my children having to deal with something such as SAD, that could ultimately lead to depression and substance abuse, is extremely scary. I would like to see studies like this one, done at Johns Hopkins, be more widely publicized so that the general public can be more aware of the prominence of the disorder and the risk it poses to our younger generations. We begin to venture down a slippery slope as a society if we begin medicating children at younger and younger ages; the increased rate of SAD would only accelerate this medicalization of our youth.

 

Ryan Whyte – SOC 410

http://www.newsday.com/news/health/parents-social-anxiety-may-raise-kids-risk-for-anxiety-disorder-1.4198514

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 21, 2012 6:30 pm

    Just one comment: you largely demonstrate a sociological perspective on the development of anxiety (that children can “inherit” behaviors from their anxious parents, that pediatricians can counsel parents to keep their symptoms to a minimum, that macro forces such as the economy play a huge role in the development of the “disorder”). Yet, you mention that a “safe” environment for children would potentially prevent the “unlocking” of the “genetic mechanisms responsible for the disease.” Did you mean that anxiety IS biological, but only “unlocked” by the “right” environmental triggers? It could be interpreted that way.

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