Is Anxiety Hereditary

Is Anxiety Hereditary

Many people who have an anxiety disorder notice that other members of their families have a similar disorder.  So, it is quite natural for them to wonder, “Is anxiety hereditary?”  Well, the answer is not as concrete as yes or no, but recent studies can point us in the right direction.

As of yet, no genes have been definitively proven to be “anxiety genes”.  What we do know is that is very highly probable that the genes responsible will be related to the neurochemicals serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.  Because no anxiety genes have yet been identified, there are no genetic tests that are able to tell you your risk for developing such a disorder.

Though, if you have a family history of any type of anxiety disorder, your risk of having an anxiety disorder increases.  Research has shown that if a closely related member of your family has social phobia disorder or panic disorder that is more likely that you will have the corresponding condition.  Additionally, there have been other studies that suggested that OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and generalized anxiety disorder tend to run in families.

In fact, if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, your children are three times more likely to develop one.  But this does not necessarily mean the increased risk is all due to genetics.  Children can learn anxious behaviors.  Still most children of parents who suffer from an anxiety disorder do not develop the disorder themselves.

Risk factors and prevention of anxiety disorder

Besides family history, there are a number of other risk factors associated with developing an anxiety disorder.

– Taking certain medications can increase anxiety symptoms within the body.  An example would be drugs that have an effect on the sympathetic nervous system.  This includes drugs that are found in medicines like nasal decongestants or asthma inhalers.  Stimulants, corticosteroids, antihistamines, and estrogen have all been linked to increasing feelings of anxiety.

– Similarly to medications, substance use can contribute to anxiety.  This is seen with prolonged use of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, benzodiazepines (better known as Xanax and Klonopin), and cannabis.  Withdrawal from any of these substances can also cause panic and anxiety symptoms.

– Anxiety is also associated with other psychiatric disorders such as social phobia and major depressive disorder.

– Those who have been exposed to traumatic events are also more likely to develop anxiety.

– Children who come from homes where they experienced neglect or abuse are more likely to develop depression, anxiety, and psychiatric disorders.  The likelihood of developing any of these increases with the length and severity of the trauma.

There are many more life experiences that can contribute to your risk for developing an anxiety disorder.  If you are experiencing symptoms related to an anxiety disorder there are many things you can do to find relief.  Many people have successfully tried the following remedies:

– Acupuncture for anxiety: Usually an acupuncturist will also recommend herbs, a diet, and exercises that can help to improve the imbalance that is causing anxious symptoms.

– Herbal anxiety remedies:  Herbs have been used for hundreds of years for many different disorders including psychological disorders including sleeplessness, depression, stress and anxiety.  Some of the best include passionflower, lemon balm, lavender, St. John’s wort, valerian, and l-theanine.

– Other holistic approaches: The holistic approach means understanding that your mental health is greatly dependant upon your lifestyle choices, diet, and exercise.  Make sure to feed your brain with the best balance of nutritious foods possible.  Healthy foods help your body to produce dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine- all vital for a healthy brain.  Additionally, moderate to vigorous exercise at least three times a week can change brain chemistry for the better.