Early Life Stress and Pediatric Anxiety Program

Anxiety & Mood Disorders

Many children today who are treated for anxiety or mood disorders receive multiple diagnoses. Each diagnosis may have a separate care protocol, with conflicting treatment plans or medications. Often, however, these diagnoses are unnecessary or incorrect and they may lead to inappropriate treatment. In many cases, a child may not be experiencing true comorbidity; rather, they may simply have symptom overlap, exhibiting symptoms that can be a sign for more than one condition. In these cases, receiving multiple diagnoses can delay the child’s treatment time, or even worsen the child’s condition. For instance, a child who suffers from a lack of concentration may receive a diagnosis of depression from one doctor, and a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) from another doctor. But neither of these diagnoses may fully address the root of the child’s emotional disorder.

By researching the intersection between mood and anxiety disorders, the Early Life Stress and Pediatric Anxiety Program will help forge a new paradigm of care and research in child psychiatry. This paradigm aims to look beyond the individual symptom or syndrome a child may be experiencing to analyze how a child’s neural networks are functioning. Such a treatment approach will particularly help children who are experiencing subsyndromal symptoms of an emotional disorder—that is, children whose symptoms do not exactly map onto the established symptoms for a particular condition.

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