Is Anxiety Genetic?

Is Anxiety Genetic? Get Straight Answers to Your Questions

Is Anxiety Genetic?

It is estimated that around 1 in 5 people suffers from some form of anxiety disorder. While there are several factors that go into what causes someone to develop an anxiety disorder, the question is anxiety genetically inherited [1*]  continues to surface.

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In this blog post, we shall answer these questions for you: 

  • Does anxiety run in families? 
  • Can parents pass on anxiety? 
  • Are there anxious genes? 

We will also discuss environmental and other risk factors for anxiety and give you some tips to keep anxiety at bay. 

What Causes Anxiety? 

The exact causes of anxiety are not well understood yet. It is generally accepted, however, that a combination of several factors causes anxiety.

These factors include: 

1. Environment

The environment in which you grow up can have a significant impact on the development of mental health problems such as anxiety later on in life.

The following factors can contribute to the development of anxiety:

  • Poverty
  • Unstable family life
  • Lack of emotional support 
Anxiety Disorders

Moods Classified as Anxiety Disorder

2. Brain Chemistry

A variety of mental health issues have been linked to imbalances in the chemicals that your brain produces. When you are feeling anxious it is due to a flood of stress hormones being released into your bloodstream, including cortisol and adrenaline.

3. Personality Traits

Someone who has low self-confidence or who worries excessively about things that others don’t are more likely to develop anxiety.

Anxiety Symptoms in Detail

The physical symptoms of anxiety include: 

  • Feeling faint 
  • Frequent headaches 
  • Hyperventilation 
  • Difficulty breathing normally 
  • Dry mouth or throat 
  • Flushing or feeling cold 
  • Trembling or shaking (tremor)  

The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by the release of adrenaline which acts as a natural pain killer but also causes you to breathe more quickly.

Anxiety can also cause behavioral symptoms that include: 

  • Avoiding social situations 
  • Convincing yourself that everything is fine when it really isn’t 
  • Feeling like everyone is watching you or out to get you 

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If the physical symptoms aren’t bad enough, anxiety can also lead to emotional symptoms which tend to make the person feel worse.

These include: 

  • Depression 
  • Feeling like you’re going mad 
  • Easily irritated or angered 

Is Anxiety Genetically Inherited? 

Does anxiety run in family? The evidence for a genetic component to mental health problems such as anxiety is overwhelming.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), most anxiety disorders are thought to have a genetic link. This means that there is around a high chance of developing anxiety if one of your parents has it.

Can Parents Pass on Anxiety? 

There are several ways in which anxiety can be passed down through your family tree. A parent with an anxiety disorder is more likely to have children who will also develop it, particularly if they bring up their child in a similar environment to the one that they grew up in.

If you were brought up by parents who had untreated anxiety, then you may inherit their anxious genes and develop negative thought patterns which will contribute towards the development of an anxiety disorder.

Are There Anxious Genes? 

Anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder (PD) have been linked with changes in certain genes. The serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) is believed to be linked with anxiety disorders.

While this gene does not mean that you will inevitably develop an anxiety disorder, it does increase the chances of having it.

Tips to Avoid Anxiety

There are many things that can contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder, but some factors are within your control.

These factors are given below: 

1. Avoid Drugs and Alcohol 

Alcohol and illegal drugs can both cause anxiety, so it’s important to steer clear if you want to reduce the risk of developing an anxiety disorder later on in life.

Anxiety Development

Ways In Which Anxiety Is Developed

2. Get Enough Sleep 

A lack of sleep is known to cause the following problems, which are all factors that can contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder:

3. Eat Healthily 

Junk food can cause imbalances in your blood sugar levels which may be linked to the development of mental health problems such as anxiety. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help to keep these chemicals at a normal level.

4. Exercise 

Regular exercise is good for your general health and well-being, as it reduces stress and releases mood-enhancing chemicals such as endorphins into the brain. This makes you feel happier overall, which may help to prevent anxiety.

5. Avoid Processed Foods

Food such as sweets and chocolate can cause fluctuations in your blood sugar levels which may trigger anxiety attacks.

6. Practice Good Hygiene 

One of the big causes of stress is feeling like your personal space or that of others is being invaded, which can lead to a fear of having panic attacks in public situations. You can reduce this risk by washing regularly, brushing your teeth, and so on.

7. Set Realistic Goals 

Unrealistic targets or expectations from yourself and others may cause anxiety as you feel like you are not good enough and that people expect more of you than they should. Setting more achievable goals can help to diffuse this type of stress before it becomes a problem.

8. Avoid Stimulants 

Stimulants such as caffeine can make you more prone to feeling anxious. It may be helpful to cut out caffeinated drinks altogether if you want to have the best chance of preventing anxiety attacks.

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Can Genetic Anxiety Be Cured?

There is no cure for anxiety disorders. However, if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder then you should be able to get treatment from a doctor or therapist which should help to relieve your symptoms. This may involve counseling or taking certain types of medication such as antidepressants.

Anxiety treatment and diagnosis at EZCare Clinic are done by qualified and experienced clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors who can help you to identify the cause of your anxiety and find the best way to treat it.

Doing something about your anxiety will not only make you feel better in the long run: it could also prevent future generations from experiencing similar problems.

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+1 sources
  1. Anxiety Disorders. (2017)
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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.