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Simple questions to screen anxiety disorders in children: study

(Xinhua)

16:08, April 18, 2012

VANCOUVER, April 16, (Xinhua) -- Just ask parents two simple questions and then one might find out whether the kindergarten-aged children are affected by anxiety disorders, according to a researcher from Canada-based University of British Columbia.

The screening questions, which ask parents about shyness, anxiety and worrying in their children, were found to be 85 percent effective in identifying children who went on to be clinically diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Lynn Miller, an associate professor in the Faculty of Education at UBC, presented the research at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting in Vancouver.

After conducting a study that involved 200 kindergarten children from British Columbia, the two questions Miller found to be most effective in identifying anxiety disorders in children are "Is your child more shy or anxious than other children his or her age?" And "Is your child more worried than other children his or her age?"

"When children enter kindergarten, they are screened for hearing and vision problems and difficulty reading so that these issues can be identified and treated early," says Miller, "It only makes sense to screen for anxiety at this age too."

Anxiety disorder is the most commonly reported mental health concern among children. It is estimated that one in ten children is affected by a mental health disorder and the majority are anxiety disorders.

"The good news is that anxiety disorders are among the easiest to treat and the best way to treat these disorders is when kids start school," says Miller, adding that this age is the best time to intervene and prevent future problems.

Anxiety is associated with a number of psychological and educational difficulties such as impaired peer and family relationships, school avoidance, greater rates of depression, increased rates of alcohol and tobacco use, and development of related anxiety disorders.

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