IS ANXIETY INHERITED?
There’s a saying that we are our parents, and we can inherit a lot of good and bad from our mothers and fathers. Chemical dependency can run in a family, and anxiety may be inherited as well.
Newsweek reports that there’s a new study which has examined the areas of the brain that produce anxiety. A group of scientists at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine conducted experiments on animals, and as this report tells us, they believe “the connectivity between two brain regions could be passed on in families.”
Studying Anxiety in Children and Teens
Nearly four hundred preadolescent monkeys were chosen for study because as this report explains, “extreme anxiety in childhood carries a risk factor for anxiety and depression in humans.”
With the knowledge from this research, doctors are hoping to combat anxiety in children. As one doctor explains, “We are continuing to discover the brain circuits that underlie human anxiety, especially the alterations in circuit function that underlie the early childhood risk to develop anxiety and depressive disorders.”
As this doctor continues, “In data from a species closely related to humans, these findings strongly point to alterations in human brain function that contribute to the level of an individual’s anxiety. Most importantly, these findings are highly relevant to children with pathological anxiety, and hold the promise to guide the development of new treatment approaches.”
Anxiety, like any other mental health disorder, is complex, and as one physician explains, “We need to keep studying this model to get the full picture of the complex neural and genetic mechanisms that underlie anxiety and anxiety disorders.”
Have You Inherited Anxiety? Don’t Worry About It
According to one report, anxiety is “because of our behaviors, not a genetic predisposition. Too often we hear people say, ‘Anxiety runs in my family, so I guess I just have to learn to live with it.’ Or, ‘My doctor said my anxiety disorder is caused by my family’s genes…’ Fortunately, both of these statements are untrue. Yes, it is true that anxiety often runs in families, but that’s because of learned behavior, not because of genes.”
If you come from an anxious family or notice that you have anxiety like your parents, don’t worry about it. Some anxiety is normal and necessary, fear is an important emotion, but if you have chronic anxiety, there is help.
There are many tools at your disposal that can help you deal with anxiety, like exercise, cognitive behavior therapy, meditation, and more. So don’t feel like you’re cursed because you have the same anxiety traits as your parents. This is not uncommon, and there are many people who worry about the same issues as their parents.
Anxiety, like addiction, is not a one size fits all mental disorder. And like addiction, what we worry about can be very individualized and personal. With the current research that is going on for anxiety in adolescents, like Live Science explains, “There is still plenty of space for experience and environment to reduce the risk of a full-blown mental disorder” when your child is young.