Why Aren't Danish Kids Treated for Anxiety?

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The Danish psychiatric system has not followed up sufficiently on child anxiety diagnoses, according to research being done at the University of Copenhagen.

This has led to children receiving effective treatment far less often than adults diagnosed with the same conditions. In fact, the number of children treated for the most easily addressed disorders is lower in Denmark than in most other Western nations.

Of the children diagnosed with anxiety disorders in Denmark between 2004 and 2007, only 5.7 percent went on to receive treatment. In contrast, the same figures in other Western countries are between 27 and 45 percent.

The findings were recently presented at the first ever Nordic Conference on Anxiety Disorders in Children.

The research team began with the assumption that Danish children are no different than other children, and so the prevalence of anxiety disorders should be similar to other national averages.

Given this data, somewhere from 60,000 to 100,000 Danish children should demonstrate symptoms of the most common conditions, including separation anxiety, simple phobia, social phobia, andgeneralized anxiety.

The team has several theories as to why the numbers are so much lower than they should be. Children with anxiety, they say, tend to be more withdrawn, so conditions with more overt signs, like ADHD, tend to receive more attention, both from clinicians and from the culture at large. This leads to the marginalization of children with anxiety.

Given the relative ease of treating anxiety if it's caught early, the team hopes that their research will prompt clinicians to be more open to the possibility of anxiety disorders in their diagnoses of children.

Source: The University of Copenhagen

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