A Study Of Childhood Anxiety Disorders And Their Impact On The Development Of Anxiety Disorders In Adulthood
A project based on independent investigation, submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. Originally written for the Theory Practice Seminar, Providence College, 2007.
Abstract This study examines childhood anxiety disorders as well as their impact on the development of anxiety disorders in adulthood. It also compares the effectiveness of different treatment methods and examines common risk factors, such as family history or genetic influence. This study measures the impact on school performance, social relationships, and other components of daily functioning. Literature suggests that anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive anxiety, fear, worry, avoidance, and compulsive rituals. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) provides mental health professionals with key symptoms or observable behaviors for the diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. Qualitative methods are used in this study to determine if a relationship exists between childhood anxiety disorders and anxiety disorders in adolescence and adulthood and to assess which treatment methods seemed effective for most people. Interviews were conducted with a small sample of female college students who have experienced an anxiety disorder. Two of the four women that were interviewed stated that their anxiety problems during childhood carried over into their adult life. Another prevailing pattern that emerged was that each of these women did not recognize that their anxiety was a problem until high school or college. All four women that were interviewed did not receive help until adolescence. School produced a significant amount of anxiety for each of the women that were interviewed. Only one of the four women had a positive experience with medication. Of those who sought counseling, they expressed that seeing a psychologist was easily accessible at their on-campus counseling centers. Only one woman engaged in cognitive behavior therapy with a psychologist. It is evident that genetics and family history are common risk factors, as each woman expressed having at least one other family member with an anxiety disorder. Implications for social work practice include educating teachers and school employees about the signs and behaviors of anxiety disorders. Doing so will result in an earlier diagnosis which allows for immediate treatment. It is imperative for social workers to be aware of the cost efficiency problems surrounding the medications for such disorders, making it possible for better integration of mental health and primary health care.