Mental Health

Anxiety disorders impacted by parents’ drug abuse

In a study of adults with social phobia and panic disorders, researchers found that the risk of relapse increased when the subjects had parents with a history of substance misuse. Friday, May 11, 2007 — NEW YORK –
Doctors who treat adults with anxiety disorders should ask them about parental substance use disorders and dependency, advise Dr. Maria E. Pagano, from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and colleagues.

“Such information may facilitate treatment planning,” they point out.

Children of parents who abuse alcohol and other substances are known to struggle with the effects of this misuse into adulthood, but few studies have looked at the impact these parental disorders have on the course of anxiety in the adult offspring.

As reported in the medical journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, the researchers assessed the impact of parental substance misuse on adults with anxiety by analyzing data from 618 subjects enrolled in the Harvard/Brown Anxiety Research Project.

The participants suffered from mental disorders such as vulnerability to perceived scrutiny by others in social situations, and difficulty maintaining a panic-free state.

A parental history of substance use disorders was tied to the likelihood that patients were divorced and had gone no further in their education than high school, the report indicates.

In addition, subjects with a parental history of substance use problems were at increased risk for relapse of social phobia and panic disorders.

The findings “highlight the importance of studies that examine the time course of change in anxiety diagnostic status in relation to parental history of substance use disorders,” the researchers conclude.

SOURCE: Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy; April 27, 2007.

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