Does Anxiety Run in the Family?
If several members of your family have anxiety, should you worry that you may be next? Is it possible that your children may develop anxiety if you or your spouse have experienced anxiety episodes? Is there anything you can do to stop it, if anxiety runs in the family?
Anxiety and Genetics: Are They Connected?
If a number of your family members have experienced symptoms of anxiety, you and your children may be genetically predisposed to it. According to Katherine Kam of WebMD, this genetic predisposition may span multiple generations, meaning it can be passed on from one generation to another.
The link between genetics and anxiety has been observed in a number of families, and is now a widely held opinion, but the scientific quest to find the specific gene is still in the early stages. The OCD Collaborative Genetics Association Study (OCGAS), described in a paper published in Molecular Psychiatry (May 2014), indicates there is a possibility of a DNA code for OCD, a type of anxiety. Other scientists, however, believe that rather than an on/off switch or specific gene, the genetic predisposition could be a set of mixed genes.
Understanding the Genetic Predisposition
If anxiety is observed in several members of a family, a genetic predisposition is believed to be inherited or passed on from generation to generation. According to Asst. Prof. Amy Przeworski, PhD, of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, “about 30 to 40 percent of the variability is related to genetic factors.” Other studies also support that this genetic predisposition may start early in children.
Despite the genetic tendency, there is still the environment to consider. Even when family members have common mixed genes, their expressions may be different, depending on individual risk factors coming from their environment or experiences.
Modifying Environmental Risk Factors
There is something you can do to stop anxiety if it runs in the family: modify your environment. The environment plays an important role in the expression of your tendency or genetic predisposition. This means you can suppress its expression by creating a less stressful environment. Since it is not possible to eliminate stress from your environment, do the next best thing—work with a therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services in Fuquay-Varina, NC, to help yourself or your family better handle life stresses.
Having a genetic predisposition for anxiety can be an unsettling thought, but hiding or denying it won’t help. While the tendency is there, your environment and experiences are just as influential. The best thing you can do is to handle your and your family’s stresses is to seek help from Carolina Counseling Services in Fuquay-Varina. This help can go a long way toward enabling you and your family to handle the risks in the most positive way.
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