Handbook of Developmental Psychopathology

pp 511-529


  • Michael W. VaseyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Ohio State University
  • , Thomas H. OllendickAffiliated withChild Study Center, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Anxiety problems are among the most common forms of emotional disturbance in childhood and adolescence (Anderson, 1994; Hagopian & Ollendick, 1997). Furthermore, although mild anxiety problems are often short-lived, childhood anxiety disorders are often chronic, interfering substantially with children’s adaptive functioning and persisting into adulthood (Keller et al., 1992; Ollendick & King, 1994). Indeed, many adult anxiety disorders appear to have their onset in childhood (Burke, Burke, Regier, & Rae, 1990; Öst, 1987). Thus, there is a clear need for improved understanding of the factors contributing to the development, persistence, and remission of such problems to guide efforts at their early detection, prevention, and treatment. Unfortunately, only recently have discussions and studies of the developmental psychopathology of anxiety begun to appear (Daleiden, Vasey, & Brown, 1999). This chapter is meant to provide a roadmap to extant research on the central issues in understanding the developmental psychopathology of childhood anxiety. The chapter begins with a discussion of issues in the definition of childhood anxiety disorders, followed by epidemiological issues, etiological factors, and illustrations of how development affects and is affected by these issues and factors. Unfortunately, space does not permit discussion of developmental issues in the assessment, treatment, and prevention of childhood anxiety disorders. The interested reader is directed to recent developments regarding these issues (e.g., Daleiden et al., 1999; Hagopian & Ollendick, 1997; Ollendick, Hagopian, & King, 1998)