Frequently asked questions about youth anxiety research
Almost a third of Americans will have an anxiety disorder in their lifetime and for many, the anxiety disorder will start in childhood and adolescence. We do not know why some youth develop an anxiety disorder and others do not, nor do we know why only some benefit from current treatments, as studies indicate that evidence-based treatments can help up to half of these patients. The research mission of the Center for Youth Mental Health is to change this by advancing our understanding of the mechanisms involved in the development of anxiety within an individual and across generations, paving the way for preventions and cures.
Anxiety disorders emerge in childhood and adolescence and are the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorder in the United States yet federal funding for research focused on these disorders is limited. In addition, innovative questions and research that often require high-risk high-reward studies are not funded by traditional grants. Philanthropy provides the opportunity to initiate innovative lines of research and the ability to leverage data to obtain subsequent sustainable federal or foundation funding.
In the last few years, research studies have begun to reveal some of the brain and genetic mechanisms mediating risk and resilience for anxiety disorders. Treatment research has tested new interventions and refined how our established medication and psychotherapy treatments can be personalized to children, adolescents, and young adults. Advances in digital technology also represent new opportunities to expand access to evidence-based treatments as digitally-based psychotherapy treatments for these disorders are being developed. Private funding and our ability to leverage the expertise of faculty from Columbia University and Weill Cornell Medicine enables the Center for Youth Mental Health to continue pursuing all of these important research directions and to help shape the future.
Anxiety disorders predominantly emerge in childhood and adolescence disrupting typical developmental trajectories. Recent studies have shown that early identification and intervention are critical to helping young people return to typical developmental tracks and successfully launch into independent adulthood. In some instances, we may be able to prevent the manifestation of any anxiety symptoms including patients that have been identified as being high-risk for experiencing such symptoms. For this reason, a major focus of the Center for Youth Mental Health is on research that helps identify early markers of risk, with the ultimate goal of prevention.