Pandemic fear: Young adults with past childhood anxiety at greater risk | NIH MedlinePlus Magazine

Could a child’s personality hold clues to how well they will handle stressful events as a young adult? A recent study has found early risk factors that predicted anxiety in young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers looked at data from 291 young adults who were already being tracked from toddlerhood to young adulthood. The participants were part of a larger long-term study on social and emotional development.

The research found that those who were extremely cautious, fearful, and uneasy with unfamiliar people and situations as children were more likely to suffer from increased anxiety during the pandemic. However, those who had been uneasy only as toddlers did not report problems with anxiety. The National Institute of Mental Health led the study.

Previous studies have shown that children who show fearfulness are at greater risk of anxiety disorders later in life.

The participants were studied at two different points after stay-at-home orders were issued in the U.S. At the first evaluation, 20% of participants reported problems with increased anxiety. At the second, 18.3% reported anxiety. The participants had an average age of 18.

The findings suggest that addressing social fear in children and anxiety in adolescents may help prevent future anxiety disorders.

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