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© Cambridge University Press (1996, 2004) 2015. “Anxiety disorders” (ADs) are a broad category of psychiatric disorders characterized by excessive fear, worry, or anxiety which cause significant distress or impairment in everyday life. They are among the most common psychiatric disorders, affecting over a quarter of people during their lifetime (Kessler et al., 2005). This chapter reviews the evidence concerning the psychological mechanisms by which ADs affect parenting and adjustment in children and young people, in order to guide further research in this area and inform clinical practice. Most research in this field has focused on the impact of maternal ADs on parenting and Children's development, largely because women are at higher risk of ADs than men (Kessler et al., 2005) and tend to be the primary caregivers of children in Western cultures. Nevertheless, recent studies including fathers with ADs have found similar associations between parenting and child adjustment to those found with mothers with ADs (Aktar et al., 2013, 2014). Thus, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it would be prudent to assume that studies of “mothers” may well provide evidence relating to “parents”. However, we also consider potential gender-specific associations with parenting and child adjustment when appropriate. Outcomes for children of parents with Ads Offspring of parents with ADs are at increased risk of psychiatric disorders (e.g., Beidel and Turner, 1997; Merikangas et al., 1999). Specifically, these offspring have a fourfold higher risk of AD than offspring of parents with no psychiatric diagnoses, and a twofold higher risk than offspring of parents with other psychiatric (nonanxiety) disorders (Micco et al., 2009). Offspring of parents with AD may also be at somewhat increased risk of mood disorders, particularly where parents have comorbid mood disorders (Micco et al., 2009).

Original publication





Book title

Parental Psychiatric Disorder: Distressed Parents and their Families, Third Edition

Publication Date



127 - 137