Barcelona snapshots

Prof. Katharina Domschke

Katharina Domschke psychiatrist Controversies Psiquiatry Barcelona
University of Freiburg, Germany
Talk Targeted prevention of anxiety disorders
Date Thursday, September 16th, 2021
Time 15:30 - 16:15
Round Table 1. Anxiety and stress-related disorders


Prof. Katharina Domschke, MA, MD, PhD is Full Professor and Chair of the Dept. of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Freiburg, Germany. Her clinical and teaching focus is on the treatment and prevention of anxiety, stress-related and affective disorders. Scientifically, Prof. Domschke is a renowned expert in genetics, epigenetics, imaging genetics and pharmacogenetics in the targeted treatment and prevention of anxiety, stress-related and affective disorders as reflected by to date over 310 publications in international journals and an h-index of 61. She has received funding from the EU, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Ministry of Research and Education (BMBF) and is a full member of ACNP, ECNP, ISPG, SOBP and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Prof. Domschke serves on the editorial boards of >10 international journals. Her work has been recognized by e.g. the WFSBP Research Award, the WPA Fellowship Award and the ECNP Fellowship Award.


Anxiety disorders constitute the most common mental disorders with a 12-month global prevalence of ~14%, they are highly disabling and socioeconomically burdening, and function as precursors of other mental disorders such as depression or substance abuse disorders. Thus, preventive measures are urgently warranted to reduce the incidence of this disorder group and their sequential comorbidities.

The present talk provides an overview of existing preventive interventions aiming at reducing the incidence or severity of anxiety-related phenotypes which are primarily based on cognitive-behavioral principles and – given that most anxiety disorders first manifest early in life – have so far mainly been directed at children/adolescents (e.g., 'FRIENDS', 'Cool Little Kids', 'REACH for RESILIENCE', 'Coping and Promoting Strength'), while only a few studies addressed adults at risk (e.g., 'Anxiety Sensitivity Amelioration Training', 'Anxiety Sensitivity Education and Reduction Training', 'Cognitive Anxiety Sensitivity Treatment [CAST]') (for review see Fisak et al., 2011; Moreno-Peral et al., 2017). Exemplarily, results of an own study showing the German version of CAST to be effective in reducing anxiety sensitivity, while at the same time indirectly decreasing separation anxiety, will be presented.

The integration of biological markers beyond psychological risk states might open up new avenues in the targeted prevention of anxiety by identifying high-risk individuals and thus informing indicated interventions and potentially also by inspiring innovative interventions directly targeting altered biological mechanisms underlying the onset of anxiety disorders such as bio- and fMRI-(neuro)feedback-based methods or pharmacological approaches (cf. Domschke, 2021a; Domschke, 2021b).


Domschke, K., 2021. Prevention in psychiatry: a role for epigenetics? World Psychiatry 20, 227-228.

Domschke, K., 2021. Targeted prevention of anxiety disorders. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 46, 49-51.

Fisak, B.J. Jr., Richard, D., Mann, A., 2011. The prevention of child and adolescent anxiety: a meta-analytic review. Prev Sci 12, 255-268.

Moreno-Peral, P. et al, 2017. Effectiveness of psychological and/or educational interventions in the prevention of anxiety: A systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression. JAMA Psychiatry 74, 1021-1029.