Study identifies risk factors for elevated anxiety in young adults during COVID-19 pandemic
Findings on impact of childhood temperament could help with anxiety prevention efforts
A new study has identified early risk factors that predicted heightened anxiety in young adults during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The findings from the study, supported by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, could help predict who is at greatest risk of developing anxiety during stressful life events in early adulthood and inform prevention and intervention efforts.
The investigators examined data from 291 participants who had been followed from toddlerhood to young adulthood as part of a larger study on temperament and socioemotional development. The researchers found that participants who continued to show a temperament characteristic called behavioral inhibition in childhood were more likely to experience worry dysregulation in adolescence (age 15), which in turn predicted elevated anxiety during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic when the participants were in young adulthood (around age 18).
“People differ greatly in how they handle stress,” said Daniel Pine, M.D., a study author and chief of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience. “This study shows that children’s level of fearfulness predicts how much stress they experience later in life when they confront difficult circumstances, such as the pandemic.”
This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022