Your online information resource for help overcoming anxiety and panic attacks

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What Causes Anxiety?

Anxiety can be caused by a number of factors, and studies of anxiety causes are ongoing. Researchers don't know for sure what always causes panic and anxiety. However, there is strong indication that the primary causes are genetics, early learning and chemical imbalances in the brain.

Studies show that anxiety disorders can run in families. It is not known exactly why this can happen. Multiple cases of anxiety disorders have been documented where a parent or grandparent and a child both develop the same condition. There are enough cases of this that it is not believed to simply be coincidence. It is also believed that anxiety disorders are a learned behavior that gets picked up at an early age.

Many researchers think that anxiety disorders can develop when people are exposed to tragic events or severe emotional stress. We've all heard stories of soldiers returning from war with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), another form of anxiety disorder. Doctors believe that a variety of other factors can contribute to developing panic or anxiety such as:

  • death in the family
  • substance abuse
  • domestic violence
  • seriously ill family member
  • child abuse

We all have a different level of tolerance for anxiety in everyday life, but studies show that exposure to extreme circumstances can lead to anxiety and panic disorders. Severe grief such as the death of a loved one or family member can certainly affect our anxiety patterns. Abuse of alcohol and drugs is believed to contribute to anxiety, and long term exposure to violence can certainly contribute as well. Experience with child abuse or domestic violence can also lead to anxiety.

While it may not be possible to pinpoint the exact cause of your anxiety, the most important thing to do is to get help. For more information, please visit our page on getting help with anxiety.

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