• A large, national survey of adolescent mental health reported that about 8 percent of teens ages 13-18 have an anxiety disorder, with symptoms commonly emerging around age 6. However, of these teens, only 18 percent received mental health care.
• Imaging studies show that children with anxiety disorders have atypical activity in specific brain areas, compared with other people. For example:
In one, very small study, anxious adolescents exposed to an anxiety-provoking situation showed heightened activity in brain structures associated with fear processing and emotion regulation, when compared with normal controls.
Another small study found that youth with generalized anxiety disorder had unchecked activity in the brain’s fear center, when looking at angry faces so quickly that they are hardly aware of seeing them.
• Brain scans of teens sizing each other up reveal an emotion circuit activating more in girls as they grow older, but not in boys. This finding highlights how emotion circuitry diverges in the male and female brain during a developmental stage in which girls are at increased risk for developing mood and anxiety disorders.
• The Child/Adolescent Anxiety Multimodal Study (CAMS), in addition to other studies on treating childhood anxiety disorders, found that high-quality cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), given with or without medication, can effectively treat anxiety disorders in children.