Study: Math-Anxious Parents Can Hinder Children’s Math Achievement

August 22, 2015 by  
Filed under Research

KELO TV has a nice summary of some new research:

If math makes you anxious, you may now be able to blame your parents.

New research published in the Psychological Science, a journal of the Association of Psychology, found that children of math-anxious parents learned less math over the school year than those children of parents who were not math-anxious.

The study, led by two University of Chicago psychological scientists, also found that the children of math-anxious parents were more likely to be math-anxious themselves, but only when the math-anxious parents provided frequent help on the child’s math homework.

Read more on Keloland. If you want to obtain the research study itself, here’s the abstract:

Intergenerational Effects of Parents’ Math Anxiety on Children’s Math Achievement and Anxiety.
Maloney EA, Ramirez G2, Gunderson EA3, Levine SC4, Beilock SL4.
Psychol Sci. 2015 Aug 7.

A large field study of children in first and second grade explored how parents’ anxiety about math relates to their children’s math achievement. The goal of the study was to better understand why some students perform worse in math than others. We tested whether parents’ math anxiety predicts their children’s math achievement across the school year. We found that when parents are more math anxious, their children learn significantly less math over the school year and have more math anxiety by the school year’s end-but only if math-anxious parents report providing frequent help with math homework. Notably, when parents reported helping with math homework less often, children’s math achievement and attitudes were not related to parents’ math anxiety. Parents’ math anxiety did not predict children’s reading achievement, which suggests that the effects of parents’ math anxiety are specific to children’s math achievement. These findings provide evidence of a mechanism for intergenerational transmission of low math achievement and high math anxiety.

Comorbidity in Tourette Syndrome: lifetime prevalence and risks

March 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, Research

Finally we have a study that provides us with some analysis of comorbidity in Tourette Syndrome (TS)  based on a large sample size.

The Tourette Syndrome Association International Consortium for Genetics has published a report that looked at lifetime prevalence, clinical associations, ages of highest risk, and etiology of psychiatric comorbidity in 1,374 individuals with TS who were compared to 1,142 TS-unaffected family members.

Some of the key findings include:

  • The lifetime prevalence of any psychiatric comorbidity among individuals with TS was 85.7%;
  • 57.7% of individuals with TS had 2 or more psychiatric disorders.
  • 72.1% of individuals with TS met DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for OCD or ADHD.
  • Other disorders, including mood, anxiety, and disruptive behavior, each occurred in approximately 30% of the participants.
  • The age of greatest risk for the onset of most comorbid psychiatric disorders was between 4 and 10 years, with the exception of eating and substance use disorders, which began in adolescence.
  • TS was associated with increased risk of anxiety and decreased risk of substance use disorders  independent from comorbid OCD and ADHD; however, high rates of mood disorders among participants with TS (29.8%) may be accounted for by comorbid OCD.
  • Parental history of ADHD was associated with a higher burden of non-OCD, non-ADHD comorbid psychiatric disorders.
  • Genetic correlations between TS and mood, anxiety, and disruptive behavior disorders may be accounted for by ADHD and, for mood disorders, by OCD.

Looking at their findings, there’s really nothing surprising in the rates of comorbidity nor the possibility that some comorbidity may be better accounted for by the presence of ADHD or OCD than by TS itself.

Hirschtritt ME, Lee PC, Pauls DL, Dion Y, Grados MA, Illmann C, King RA, Sandor P, McMahon WM, Lyon GJ, Cath DC, Kurlan R, Robertson MM, Osiecki L, Scharf JM, Mathews CA; for the Tourette Syndrome Association International Consortium for Genetics. Lifetime Prevalence, Age of Risk, and Genetic Relationships of Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders in Tourette Syndrome. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 Feb 11. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.2650. [Epub ahead of print]

Successful cognitive behavioral therapy in youth equals decreased thinking about suicide

March 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, Research

Penn Medicine researchers found that patients who did not respond to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety in childhood had more chronic and enduring patterns of suicidal ideation at 7 to 19 years after treatment. This study adds to the literature that suggests that successful CBT for childhood anxiety confers long-term benefits. The complete study is available in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

“This study underscores the importance of the identification and evidence-based treatment of youth anxiety,” says lead author, Courtney Benjamin Wolk, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The relationship between anxiety disorders in children and adolescents and the emergence of later depressive disorders is well established. But, few studies have established evidence for an independent relationship between anxiety and the range of suicidal behaviors, including suicidal ideation, plans, attempts and completed suicides or the impact of CBT treatment for anxiety in childhood and adolescent years on later suicidality. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that has been scientifically tested and is the gold standard in the treatment of anxiety and related disorders.

Wolk and colleagues looked at 66 patients who were treated for anxiety, particularly separation, social or generalized anxiety, as children, who agreed to be followed for years after treatment. These individuals had previously participated in two of the seminal randomized controlled trials of the Coping Cat program, a manualized CBT intervention for child anxiety, developed by coauthor Philip C. Kendall, PhD, of Temple University. Forty patients were classified as responding “successfully” to CBT treatment in childhood and adolescent years while 26 were treatment non-responders, with “successful” treatment defined as those patients whose primary anxiety disorder was no longer clinically significant after 16 weeks of treatment.

At seven to 19 years after treatment, treatment response was found to significantly predict lifetime suicidal ideation, such that treatment nonresponders were more likely to have experienced suicidal ideation. In fact, every patient who reported thinking about suicide in the past 12 months or past two weeks was among those who had not responded to CBT. Eighteen of these reported experiencing suicidal ideation, nine reported having made one or more suicide plans and six described making one or more suicide attempts in their lifetime.

In those patients who reported suicidal ideation, onset occurred at a mean age of about 16 years and was last reported by most patients at about 20 years of age. Mean ages of onset and recency for suicide plans were 18 and 19 years, respectively. Finally, among those who reported making suicide attempts, ideation began at a mean of 17 years and occurred most commonly/recently at the age of 21. All instances of suicidal plans and attempts reported occurred after the age of initial treatment.

This is the longest known study looking at suicidal ideation following CBT treatment in youth. “This study suggests the importance of ongoing monitoring of anxious youth who are not successfully treated for later suicidal ideation,” says senior author, Rinad Beidas, PhD, assistant professor at the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. It is the first study to demonstrate the protective function of successful evidence-based treatment for childhood anxiety disorders on suicidal ideation in late adolescence and adulthood.

SOURCE: Penn Medicine

Can antidepressants over-activate or “trip” children and teens into mania?

July 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Research

Can antidepressant medications used in treating depression and anxiety disorders  “trip” kids or teens into mania or hypomania? A study reported by Offidani et al. in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics in March 2013 investigated that question.

The investigators compared reports of antidepressant trials (n = 6,767 subjects) in juvenile depressive (n = 17) and anxiety disorders (n = 25) for indications of excessive mood elevation or behavioral activation. They found that excessive arousal-activation was higher in juveniles treated with antidepressants than it was for children treated with placebos.  The rates of excessive mood or behavioral activation was similar across the anxiety and depressive samples. 

So what does that mean, you ask? It means you need to monitor carefully if a child is being prescribed an antidepressant for an anxiety disorder or depression. If you see signs of excessive mood elevation or behavioral (over)activation, contact the doctor.  

While interpreting the findings from this study is difficult and more research is needed, the investigators note:

Notably, we recommend special caution and close monitoring in the use of ADs to treat depression or anxiety in juvenile patients in whom the risk of excessive mood elevation or the presence of undiagnosed BPD [Bipolar Disorder] is likely to be underestimated. Those who experience pathological mood elevation or activation during AD [antidepressant] treatment need especially close monitoring for similar future responses and for development of BPD. We also encourage avoidance of unnecessary and potentially burdensome or risky, indefinite, long-term use of mood-stabilizing treatments following single mood-elevating responses to AD treatment  and consideration of effective and safe nonpharmacological interventions, such as psychotherapy, for anxiety disorders.

You can access the full article online, here

Mark your calendars for these webinars from the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders

February 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Event

Don’t live in an area where you can easily get information or support? Consider signing up for free webinars. Here’s a press release from the New Jersey Center For Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders that lists six upcoming webinars:

Between now and the end of April, NJCTS will present 6 more webinars, beginning February 12 with “Treating Specific Phobias: When and How?” Presented by Dr. Martin E. Franklin, Ph.D. — Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Director of Penn’s Child/Adolescent OCD, Tics, Trichotillomania, & Anxiety Group (COTTAGe) — this webinar will discuss how specific phobias such as fear of snakes, heights and medical procedures are among the most common mental health issues, and that they are associated with significant anxiety and avoidance that can cause functional impairment.

Many manage to work around their fears, but when doing so causes difficulties with functioning it might be time to seek help. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) involving gradual exposure to the feared situations or objects have worked well for a wide variety of phobias and can be delivered efficiently by trained providers. This webinar will focus on when it is best to seek such help, how to identify providers with sufficient knowledge and expertise to provide CBT, and what to expect from such treatments in terms of process, response and maintenance of gains.

To register for this free webinar, please visit

Here is a list of other upcoming NJCTS Wednesday Webinars:

February 26 — “Getting Unstuck: How to Overcome Anxiety and Mood Problems with Behavioral Activation and Exposure,” presented by Dr. Brian Chu, Ph.D. For more information and to register for this free webinar, please visit

March 12 — “Chill Out! Helping Teens and Young Adults Manage Stress and Anxiety,” presented by Rachel Strohl, Psy.D. For more information and to register for this free webinar, please visit

March 26 — “Using Creative Arts in Therapy: Benefits of Music, Dance & Art,” presented by Kathleen Nace, MT-BC, NMT, of The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health. For more information and to register for this free webinar, please visit

April 9 — “Resilience and Tourette Syndrome,” presented by Cathy Budman, MD, director of the Movement Disorders Program at North Shore-LIJ Health System. For more information and to register for this free webinar, please visit

April 23 — “Tourette Syndrome & Developmental Disabilities,” presented by Lawrence Brown, MD. For more information and to register for this free webinar, please visit

These webinars are free to view, but those wishing to receive a Professional Development Certificate or a Certificate of Attendance for attending any of these live webinars must pay a $20 nonrefundable fee to receive the certificate. For more information, please call 908-575-7350 or visit

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