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Is anxiety hereditary? Before we answer that question, let me first ask you if you’ve ever wondered why two people who experienced the same life events have different reactions? One may have full control over themselves especially when dealing with the challenges of life, while the other one might feel stressed out. Is anxiety hereditary? Most of us have experienced some form of hostile symptoms of anxiety. Usually, it’s hard to control even in ordinary circumstances. What is the reason for this? Does it have something to do with how you’re born? Or perhaps this is something you have developed in the course of life. In this article, we will answer your question is anxiety hereditary?  

Is Anxiety Hereditary: Facts You Need to Know

Is anxiety hereditary? Anxiety isn’t always hereditary. However, studies have shown that there are certain genetic variations that have a much higher risk of experiencing anxiety disorders. According to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health, there are a lot of people suffering from anxiety disorder.

Is anxiety hereditary? According to most statistics, people who came from families or who have family members that have a history of OCD are nearly 10x more likely to be diagnosed with the same condition or anything related to anxiety/ mental disorders. Around half of all patients who are experiencing anxiety disorders usually have relatives who have been diagnosed with the same condition.


A type of anxiety disorder known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder is slightly less hereditary compared to other forms; only 40% of patients have a similar diagnosis with their family members. Scientists have discovered that many people with mental disorders or have a family history of it have differences in the genes that regulate the neurotransmitters of their brain. This means that the way their brain regulates the serotonin and also glutamate could be different for those who have a genetic history of the condition.

Is anxiety hereditary? While hereditary may be one of the reasons of developing anxiety disorder, other factors also come into play such as environmental conditions, traumatic experiences, pressure at home and at work, etc. These factors can also cause someone with no genetic history to develop mental health issues like anxiety.

There is however enough evidence to conclude that genes do play a role in shaping the emotional and psychological behavior or tendency of a person.

For now, it’s important to note that people should pay close attention to how they react towards situations; and make sure to consult a professional if they believe that they have anxiety disorder regardless of their family history. 

Genetic Variation and Anxiety

Genetic variation, also known as genetic variability is a factor that’s usually linked with causing anxiety or depression in teens. According to research, one or more genetic variations are usually enhanced yet can also diminish the risk of anxiety in adolescents. These findings are based on a hypothesis called Differential Susceptibility. This suggests that the emotional development within individuals is linked with the interaction of genetic variations plus environmental factors. As mentioned earlier, environmental facts can include traumatic events, social problems, family problems etc. The presence of these factors usually explains a lot why different people have different reactions to the same situations. 

Is Anxiety Hereditary: Contributing Factors

Genetics play a significant role when it comes to developing mental disorders such as anxiety but again other factors can contribute towards the development of this condition. Environmental conditions plus the way the brain functions are believed to have a much greater impact.

Brain Chemistry

Anxiety has been linked with irregular functioning of neurotransmitters in the brain. This can disrupt the proper transfer of messages and could cause some altercation. This is evident in the way our brain reacts to certain life events particularly stressful one which can lead to anxiety. There are also areas of the brain that are responsible for regulating emotions; researchers believed that in people diagnosed with anxiety, their mood regulators function abnormally. For instance, a malformed link between the limbic system and the pre – frontal cortex usually restricts the individual’s risk of evaluating capability. This usually affects the person to create the right decisions.

Environmental Factors

This is again the most dominant element that is responsible for developing anxiety even in mentally healthy people. Certain life incidents like death, an accident, abuse, divorce, or other traumatic experiences usually contribute to anxiety. This is especially true for people diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorders (GAD); a condition that’s characterized by excessive worry about certain life events.

Another factor is by using or withdrawing from substances like caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other addictive elements. These things can definitely worsen the anxiety condition.


Is anxiety hereditary? The genetic factors and the environmental conditions that contribute to anxiety disorder may not be completely solved anytime soon. However, this shouldn’t stop you from working on your issues and being proactive. It’s important to know that feelings of anxiety are only temporary. For some people it is just a period in their life. Anxiety disorder is a mental illness that can show its symptoms even if the triggering event happened a long time ago.

This only means that it is normal to experience occasional anxiety but if one is diagnosed with a disorder it shouldn’t be ignored. If you are suffering from anxiety to the point that it is negatively affecting your life, make sure to reach out to a professional therapist. This is the best way to help you overcome your negative thoughts and feelings.

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