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Social anxiety in children is precursor to depression

Children displaying social anxiety symptoms may be at a higher risk of suffering depression in the future, warn researchers of Binghamton University, USA, in a study published in the Journal of Adolescence (September).

Study co-author Holly Kobezak says the study takes off from previous research which indicated that children with social anxiety symptoms are at high risk of developing depression, as are offspring of mothers diagnosed with depression. “Our study takes what is already known one step further by suggesting that the combination of anxiety and depression may be even more insidious than the presence of either risk factor singly,” says Kobezak, lab manager at the Mood Disorders Institute at Binghamton University.

The researchers invited 250 eight-14-year-old children whose mothers either did or did not have a history of major depressive disorder (MDD) to complete questionnaires measuring social anxiety and depression symptoms. The children were reassessed at six-month intervals over a period of two years. The results showed that high levels of social anxiety prompted increase of depression symptoms over time, but only among children of mothers with a history of MDD.

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