Date: 22 Mar 2014

Anxiety Disorders and Behavioral Inhibition in Preschool Children: A Population-Based Study

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Abstract

This study assessed the prevalence of anxiety disorders in preschool children and their associations with behavioral inhibition as a temperamental precursor. A representative sample of 1,342 children aged 4–7 years (M = 6;1, SD = 4.80) was examined with a standardized parental questionnaire, including items referring to anxiety disorders at the current age and behavioral inhibition at the age of 2 years. The total prevalence of anxiety disorders was 22.2 %. Separation anxiety (SAD) affected 7 %, social phobia (SOC) 10.7 %, specific phobia (PHOB) 9.8 % and depression/generalized anxiety (MDD/GAD) 3.4 % of children. The prevalence of most types of anxiety was higher in girls except for separation anxiety, which affected more boys. Behavioral inhibition in the second year of life was associated with all types of anxiety. Anxiety disorders are common but frequently overlooked in preschool children. Different subtypes can be differentiated and are often preceded by behavioral inhibition. Assessment, prevention and treatment of anxiety disorders are recommended in preschool children.