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Anxiety is an umbrella term with many different subsections. Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) explains that, “anxiety refers to anticipation of a future concern and is more associated with muscle tension and avoidance behavior.” It is an unavoidable feeling that every human will undoubtedly experience throughout one’s life. While fleeting anxiety is common for most humans, a person that experiences persistent symptoms of anxiety that interfere with his or her ability to function in daily life may be struggling with an anxiety disorder. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asserts: “Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” There are several distinct types of anxiety disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).

Causes and Risk Factors 

Clinical findings point to a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors that contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder. Risk factors that may increase an individual’s propensity for developing an anxiety disorder could include both environmental and genetic factors, such as the following: 

  • Exposure to recent or prolonged stressful situations: anxiety conditions could develop due to one or more stressful life events (e.g., change in living arrangements, occupational stress, family/ relationship problems, death, or loss of a loved one, trauma, enduring verbal, sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, etc.).
  • Physical health problems: chronic physical illness can contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder (e.g., thyroid problems, heart arrhythmias, etc.). 
  • Personality factors: research suggests that people with certain personality traits are more likely to have anxiety, increasing their susceptibility to developing an anxiety disorder.
  • Other mental health illness: the presence of other mental health issues (e.g., depression, bipolar disorder, etc.) can contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder.
  • Recreational drug and alcohol use: substance abuse can cause or exacerbate one’s anxiety.
  • Genetics: people with a family history of anxiety disorders are at increased risk for developing an anxiety disorder. 

Additional research is required to uncover the precise cause of anxiety disorder, as the scientific explanation for its development remain unknown.

For Information and Support 

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.  


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