Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Irritability at Age 3 May Predict Psychiatric Disorders in Adolescence

Irritability in preschool-aged children may point to youth at risk of developing psychiatric disorders in adolescence, according to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

“[O]ur findings underscore the clinical significance and predictive validity of early childhood irritability,” wrote Leah K. Sorcher and Lea Dougherty, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland and colleagues. “Preschool irritability predicted internalizing and externalizing disorders in adolescence, parent-reported anxiety and depressive symptoms [in the youth], and greater functional impairment, even after controlling for baseline psychiatric disorders.”

The findings were based on information collected as part of the Stony Brook Temperament Study—a longitudinal study investigating the role of early child temperament on the development of internalizing disorders. At the start of the study, parents were asked questions about their 3-year-olds’ irritability, other psychiatric symptoms, and functional impairment. When these children reached age 12 and/or 15, both parents and youth were asked questions about any psychiatric symptoms the youth were experiencing, including symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as suicidal thoughts. Additionally, they answered questions about the youth’s physical health and overall functioning.

“[I]rritability at age 3 predicted adolescent anxiety disorders, including specific phobia, social phobia, and [generalized anxiety disorder]; and ADHD and [disruptive behavioral disorders],” Sorcher, Dougherty, and colleagues wrote. Preschool irritability also predicted greater functional impairment in adolescence, including poorer peer functioning and physical health, and greater likelihood of nonsuicidal self-injury and use of psychiatric treatment, psychotropic medications, and educational services.

“These findings strongly support the need for early identification of irritability in young children and the importance of intervening as early as possible,” the authors concluded.

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Irritability in Childhood May Point to Teens at High Risk for Suicide.”

(Image: iStock/shapecharge)

Annual Meeting Submission Deadline Extended to September 30

The deadline to submit abstracts of general sessions, courses, and posters for the 2022 APA Annual Meeting has been extended to Thursday, September 30, at 5 p.m. ET. All proposals must be submitted through the abstract submission portal.



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