*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on MedicalXpress.
New research from the University of Otago has helped identify which specific child behaviors may raise the likelihood of anxiety disorders developing in adulthood and conversely, which ones are less cause for concern.
The study, published in the international medical journal Psychological Medicine used data from the University of Otago’s world-renowned Christchurch Health and Development Study (CHDS), a longitudinal study of a birth cohort of 1,265 children born in Ōtautahi Christchurch over a four-month period during 1977.
Undertaken by University of Otago Christchurch Ph.D. student Nathan Monk, the research tracked 15 common anxious behaviors among the CDHS cohort group from ages seven to nine, comparing results as they were interviewed and evaluated over time. The group studied are now aged in their mid-forties.
Mr. Monk and his co-authors found that several observed childhood behaviors—including a tendency to cry easily and often, a tendency to do things alone as well as regularly appearing sad and miserable—all carried a heightened risk for adolescent and adult anxiety. Conversely, other behaviors such as shyness with other children, being submissive or fearful of authority, and afraid of people, in general, carry no heightened risk of the child developing anxiety when they grow up.
“Basically, what we have found is that childhood anxious behaviors related to social isolation and sadness appear to carry risk for developing an anxiety disorder in later life,” says Mr. Monk. “In contrast, behaviors related to situational fears and anxiety around adults do not appear to carry the same risk.”