About the Lab

"Working with anxious children is especially rewarding when I see their hard work lead to feelings of pride and decreased fear and worry. My goals for our child anxiety program are to advance our knowledge of anxiety disorders, develop more-effective treatments, and provide the best possible care to children and their families. I firmly believe that well-planned research is the best method for achieving these goals. The Pediatric Anxiety Disorders Laboratory provides an excellent opportunity to combine research and clinical practice in a complementary fashion. I hope that our children and families not only gain relief from their worries and fears, but also feel as if they have participated in the effort to develop better ways to help children with similar problems." — Dr. Stephen Whiteside

Although mild fears and anxieties are part of normal childhood, they are a serious concern when they begin to disrupt daily life. Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders in childhood, affecting between 6 and 18 percent of children and teenagers.

These disorders include phobias, separation anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, severe health anxiety (hypochondriasis) and social phobia. If left untreated, anxiety disorders—including OCD—tend to continue into adulthood and place children at increased risk of other problems, including poor academic performance, depression and drug dependence.

For these reasons, understanding the nature of anxiety problems and how best to treat them is very important.

The Pediatric Anxiety Disorders Laboratory at Mayo Clinic uses an evidenced-based approach to understand and treat childhood anxiety and OCD. The laboratory's research and treatment address the multiple factors contributing to these disorders, including biological, psychological and family influences.

Research goals are to increase understanding of childhood anxiety and OCD and develop state-of-the-art treatments for severe symptoms that are easily available to children and families. As part of a world-leading medical institution, the lab uses the latest in medical technology to study childhood anxiety and OCD and evaluate the effectiveness of the treatments.

Clinically, the lab specializes in the ability to integrate cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmacological assessments and treatments.