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What Causes an Anxiety Disorder?


Anxiety disorders, which impact roughly one-third of all teenagers, are the most prevalent mental health issue among children and adolescents. In addition, according to, 19.1% of adults in the US suffer from an anxiety disorder.

What Are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders, also known as anxiety-related disorders, are mental health conditions that cause a person to excessively worry about everyday things and situations. These concerns might become so overwhelming that they make it difficult to go about daily tasks regularly.

When they are stressed, people with these diseases may exhibit physical symptoms of anxiety, including sweating, shaking, rapid heart rate, or shortness of breath. They may also have trouble sleeping or concentrating.

Anxiety Disorder Signs and Symptoms

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that the causes of anxiety disorders are not entirely known.

Genetics may, however, play a role, as some data suggest. According to research, individuals are more likely to experience an anxiety disorder themselves if a family member has one.

Environmental factors are also known to affect anxiety symptoms. For example, stressful events like divorce or death in the family can lead to anxiety disorders.

People who suffer from anxiety disorders often try to avoid certain situations because they fear what might happen if they do something wrong. Those suffering from this disorder can find difficulty carrying out their daily routine as a result of these avoidance habits.

The ability to unwind and have fun may be difficult for those with anxiety disorders. Depression can happen to certain persons who have anxiety problems. Others may have suicidal thoughts.

What Causes an Anxiety Disorder?

In regards to mental health, suffering from a chronic anxiety disorder is not uncommon. They impact around one in seven individuals. The number of Americans who have an anxiety disorder is thought to be close to 40 million.

But what exactly causes anxiety disorders? And how do you know if you have one?

Below are some possible causes of anxiety disorders.


They can often be passed down through generations. Panic attacks, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are a few conditions that are influenced by hereditary variables.

On the flip side, genetics doesn’t always cause anxiety disorders. Researchers believe there are environmental influences, such as childhood trauma and abuse, that contribute to the development of certain types of anxiety disorders.

Brain chemistry

Another theory behind anxiety disorders is that they may be related to abnormal levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA, glutamate, and acetylcholine. These chemicals help regulate mood, sleep, appetite, energy level, and muscle tone.

A study published in 2009 found that patients with depression had lower levels of serotonin, while those with schizophrenia had elevated levels. This finding led researchers to speculate that abnormalities in brain chemistry could lead to both depression and schizophrenia.

Environmental stress

Stressful events cause your body to release the chemical cortisol, which is the main hormone connected with stress. The ability of your brain to function normally can be impacted by long-term exposure to elevated cortisol levels.

Studies suggest that long-term exposure to cortisol may increase sensitivity to stress, making you more vulnerable to developing an anxiety disorder.

What Are the Risk Factors for Developing an Anxiety Disorder?

A person may be more likely to suffer an anxiety disorder if they are susceptible to a number of risk factors.

Family history

Anxiety disorders are more likely to affect you if you have a parent or sibling who suffers from one.

According to research, having a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister) with an anxiety disorder increases your chances of developing one by up to 50%.

Early life trauma

Research suggests that children exposed to early life trauma are more likely to develop anxiety disorders later on in life. Early life trauma includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, and parental substance use.

Medical conditions

You may be more prone to having an anxiety disorder if you have specific medical issues. For instance, thyroid disease, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, head injury, and epilepsy all appear to be associated with anxiety disorders.

Other psychiatric disorders

People who have other psychiatric disorders are more likely to develop a coexisting anxiety disorder.

For example, people with bipolar disorder are twice as likely to develop an anxiety condition than those without bipolar disorder. The likelihood of developing a second anxiety disorder is three times higher in PTSD patients than in controls.

Are Anxiety Disorders a Forever Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are not considered “forever” disorders. There is evidence that many people recover from their initial episodes of anxiety.

However, if left untreated, anxiety disorders tend to worsen over time. In fact, studies show that about half of people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder will continue to suffer from symptoms after ten years.

How can I help myself?

If you do become anxious, there are things you can do to reduce your symptoms. Some helpful strategies include:

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise helps improve your overall health and reduces stress. It also improves your mental well-being.
  • Get enough sleep. You feel drained and irritated when you don’t get enough sleep. Implement a wake-up and sleep routine.
  • Eat healthy foods. Consuming healthy foods can keep you feeling energized and at ease. Processed foods and sugary drinks should be avoided.
  • Learn relaxation techniques. These include breath work, yoga, meditation, and color therapy.

Are There Treatments for Anxiety?

Treatments for anxiety vary depending on what type of anxiety you’re experiencing. If you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder, there are many forms of mental health treatment.

Types of treatments vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder being addressed.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, and/or psychotherapy may help. CBT focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviors. Psychotherapy involves talking through problems with a therapist.

Agape Treatment Center offers personalized, holistic care. If you are seeking help for your anxiety, reach out to us for a consultation. We specialize in long-term help and wellness for our clients and their families.

Call the Agape Treatment Center admissions team at 888-614-0077 to learn more about what our addiction and mental health facilities can do for you or your loved one.

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