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Who is at Most Risk for Developing Anxiety

Risk factors for anxiety
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Dr. Bradley Noon



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It is normal to feel anxious when attending a job interview, taking a test, or making significant life changes. Such sensations may arise in response to stress and danger, and for most people, they are temporary.

However, those feelings are more serious for a person with an anxiety disorder to the point of interfering with daily life. One may experience too much worry, fear, and tension. Their anxiety persists even after the danger has passed and is often disproportionate to the threat one faces.

About 19.1% of adults in the U.S. [1*] aged 18 years or older experience anxiety disorder. That makes the condition one of the most prevalent mental illnesses in the country. But what are the risk factors for anxiety? This article will answer that question, and first, let’s look at its symptoms.

Anxiety may become an obstacle to living a happy life. Manage the symptoms with the help of certified professionals at MEDvidi.

Consequences and Symptoms of Anxiety

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, people with anxiety are six times more likely to have other psychiatric disorders (depression is its most common comorbid condition). In some cases, the person will have occasional headaches, feelings of weakness, tiredness, and irritability. In the worst cases, panic attacks will occur.

Below are the most common anxiety symptoms:

  • Feeling tense or nervous
  • Racing thoughts of potential danger
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Breathing fast
  • Hypertension
  • Fast heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Too much worry that makes it hard to concentrate
  • Irrational fears
  • Avoiding anxiety triggers like social gatherings

Common Causes of Anxiety

The exact things that cause anxiety remain unknown. However, scientists have associated the development of anxiety disorders with the following factors.

Brain Chemistry

Anxiety has something to do with emotions and fear originating from the brain. Therefore, scientists believe that anxiety disorder may result from circuit problems in the part of the brain that controls emotions. Also, an imbalance between specific neurotransmitter levels [2*] in the brain has been associated with the development of anxiety disorders.


Like most mental disorders, anxiety can pass from parents to children. So the chances of getting it are higher if one of the parents or siblings has the condition. Also, some types of DNA sequences [3*] are known to be prone to anxiety disorder.

Environmental Stress

Anxiety can result from what you’ve seen or experienced in real life. Some common triggers include childhood abuse, witnessing violence, and the death of a loved one.

Drug Abuse

Some drugs can reproduce the symptoms of anxiety. And if a person has a drug addiction, withdrawing from the substance(s) can trigger anxiety.

Medical Conditions

One can get anxiety from a medical disease, especially if it involves the heart, lungs, and thyroid. The disease can either cause anxiety or make the symptoms worse. People with mental illnesses, such as depression, ADHD, and bipolar, are also at a greater risk of having an anxiety disorder.

MEDvidi doctors will conduct a thorough evaluation of your symptoms to determine the root causes of anxiety and choose the right treatment.

Common Risk Factors for Anxiety

Besides the above causes, can you develop anxiety from factors like personality and lifestyle? The answer is yes. Studies [4*] have shown examples of such risk factors for generalized anxiety disorder. Below are some of them:

  • Being shy as a child
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Stress from chronic health problems
  • Taking too much caffeine
  • Poor lifestyles, such as isolation, unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise

Additionally, studies show that the female gender is more likely [5*] to get anxiety disorders. Some women experience postpartum depression and anxiety during pregnancy or after leaving maternity. This anxiety is one of the complications of childbirth and is associated with mood swings.

Risk factors for generalized anxiety disorder

Is Anxiety a Symptom Itself?

Many things can cause anxiety disorder; however, anxiety itself can be a symptom of various mental conditions. Six of the most probable options include:

Unwanted thoughts, fears, and inability to handle social interactions can increase anxiety in a person. If the effects are unbearable and interfere with one’s daily life, it is recommended to consult a mental health professional to get online anxiety diagnosis and proper help.

Do you have any disturbing symptoms? MEDvidi doctors are ready to examine your mental health, make a diagnosis, and choose suitable treatment.

Seeking Treatment for Anxiety

A lot of people with anxiety disorders don’t seek treatment. Yet it’s much easier to manage the problem with professional help. A therapist can help determine what causes anxiety in your case, make a diagnosis, and prescribe medications (if required). Professional help can also include talk therapy. Additionally, you’ll need to practice stress management techniques, such as meditation, exercise, and healthy eating.

If you feel anxious for prolonged periods, it’s vital to seek a medical diagnosis. The sooner you seek treatment, the sooner you will know what can trigger anxiety, and the better you’ll be able to manage the condition.


5 sources
  1. Anxiety Disorders - Facts & Statistics
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  2. The Neurobiology of Anxiety Disorders: Brain Imaging, Genetics, and Psychoneuroendocrinology. (2013)
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  3. Are there anxious genes? (2002)
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  5. Gender Differences in Anxiety Disorders: Prevalence, Course of Illness, Comorbidity and Burden of Illness. (2011)
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Dr. Bradley Noon



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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.