A High-Risk Pilot Study of the Children of Adults with Social Phobia
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OBJECTIVE: Children of patients with social phobia were studied to estimate their rates of psychiatric disorder. METHOD: Twenty-six social-phobic outpatients who had at least one child between the ages of 4 and 18 years participated in the study. Information was collected from parents on all 47 children and from the children between 12 and 18 years of age. Diagnoses in the children were made based on DSM-III-R and were done by a best-estimate method, using parent and child reports from a modified Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for Children, the Survey Diagnostic Instrument, the Current Self-Report Childhood Inhibition Scale, and the Alcohol Dependence Survey. RESULTS: Of the 47 children, 49% had at least one lifetime anxiety disorder diagnosis. The most common diagnoses were overanxious disorder (30%), social phobia (23%), and separation anxiety disorder (19%). Sixty-five percent had more than one anxiety disorder diagnosis. Lifetime major depression was found, in 8.5% of the children. Parents whose children met criteria for an anxiety disorder had a greater mean number of comorbid diagnoses than did the parents of unaffected children. CONCLUSION: This pilot study suggests that children of social-phobic parents may have increased rates of psychiatric disorder. Further studies incorporating a control group are needed.
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