Often times, we tell people experiencing anxiety to just “get over it” and move on with their lives. We do this because we believe that they are purposefully concentrating on their worries.
New research out of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, however, suggests otherwise. Indeed, scientists there have found that anxiety (as well as it’s close cousin depression) can actually be inherited from your parents.
In other words, anxiety is genetically driven. Some folks can’t turn it off, even when they want to.
What They Did
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison came to this conclusion by analyzing the behavior of monkeys. Essentially, they placed them in anxiety-ridden situations, and then scanned their brains and analyzed the areas governing moods.
What they found was that monkeys who reacted to anxiety poorly were, more often than not, the offspring of other anxious monkeys. Indeed, they calculated that up to 30% of the anxiety felt by these monkeys could be directly attributed to genes acquired from their parents.
While this test was done on monkeys and not humans, researchers say that they provide a decent analogue since they react similarly to stress.
It’s important to understand that while their findings suggest that you can be genetically predisposed to anxiety, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have an anxiety disorder if your parents or other relatives have one.
Knowing that anxiety is genetically driven and not something entirely affected by your environment is important, especially since 25% of those who suffer from anxiety feel that their issues aren’t taken seriously by others. With these findings they can prove just how serious their conditions are, and in turn, get more of the support and help that they need. And that is a big step forward.
Featured photo credit: Alessandra/panic anxiety 031 via flic.kr