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Improvement, measured on a psychiatric scale, meant that anxiety had lessened so much that kids could do things they'd refused to do before, such as sleep in their own beds, go to school and socialize.
There was only one serious "adverse event" considered possibly linked to treatment -- worsening behavior in a child on drug treatment only.
While many kids have occasional fears or anxiousness, those with full-fledged anxiety disorders are almost paralyzed by these feelings. Three types of disorders were studied: separation anxiety, generalized anxiety and social phobia, Walkup said.
Affected kids may be so worried that something bad will happen to their parents that they repeatedly refuse to go to school. Or they'll be so afraid of thunderstorms that they get chronic stomachaches, even when it's not stormy. Those with social anxiety disorder may just seem shy, but they are so self-conscious that they won't seek out friends or take part in class so their grades suffer, Walkup said.
"These kids were really miserable at the start of the study," and many ended up "really happy," March said.
The therapy used in the study was cognitive behavior therapy, which emphasizes that thoughts can be irrational and cause troubling feelings. It encourages patients to focus on positive thinking that allows them to develop ways of confronting fearful situations.
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