Causes of Anxiety Disorders

The causes of anxiety disorders are not fully known, but the following may be involved:

  • Genetic factors (including a family history of an anxiety disorder);
  • Environment (such as experiencing a traumatic event or stress);
  • Psychologic makeup; and/or
  • A physical condition.

An anxiety disorder can be triggered by environmental stresses, such as the breakup of a significant relationship or exposure to a life-threatening disaster.

When an individual’s response to stresses is inappropriate or an individual is overwhelmed by events, an anxiety disorder can arise. For example, some individuals find speaking before a group exhilarating. But others dread it, becoming anxious with symptoms such as sweating, fear, a rapid heart rate, and tremor. Such individuals may avoid speaking even in a small group.

Anxiety tends to run in families. Doctors think some of this tendency may be inherited, but some is probably learned by living with anxious individuals.

Did You Know?

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health disorder.
  • Individuals with an anxiety disorder are more likely than other individuals to have depression.

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