Can Anxiety Be Genetic?

People who are aware of the causes of different mental health issues are better able to take preventative action when it is feasible. Additionally, it can assist medical practitioners in providing individuals who do develop them with more efficacious treatment alternatives. Many people wonder if there is a hereditary component that increases a person’s likelihood of experiencing anxiety disorders in particular. Continue reading to find out more about the causes of anxiety that experts have found thus far.

Anxiety disorders: what are they?

Many people occasionally feel anxious about certain circumstances, such a job interview or a marital problem. A worry that is so constant that it interferes with day-to-day activities and functioning could be considered a clinical anxiety disorder. Anxiety’s general symptoms can include:

Constant anxiety

a feeling of impending peril or disaster

Experiencing restlessness or anxiety Having trouble focusing

Having trouble falling asleep



An individual may suffer from separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, or generalized anxiety disorder, among other specific disorders. With unique symptoms, each of them is a valid diagnosis in and of itself. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder annually. The three most frequent types of anxiety disorders are panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders in general

If a person consistently feels extremely anxious and worried in a variety of contexts, they may have generalized anxiety disorder, also known as generalised anxiety disorder. A person’s personal, social, and professional lives can all be significantly impacted by generalized anxiety disorder. For GAD to be diagnosed, symptoms usually need to be present for six months.

Anxiety disorders

The main symptom of panic disorder is sudden bouts of extreme anxiety, or panic attacks. A person who suffers from panic disorder will usually grow extremely afraid of having another panic attack.

Anxiety disorders related to social situations

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by uneasiness and concern in social settings and is typically associated with a person’s fear of being misinterpreted or judged. Usually, a six-month duration of symptoms is required for a diagnosis to be established.

The reasons behind anxiousness

Does anxiety run in the family? And if so, what role does heredity play in the development of anxiety disorders? Similar to numerous other mental health issues, anxiety disorders are believed to be brought on by a combination of variables. We’ll talk about how a person can acquire an anxiety disorder as a result of a genetic predisposition, certain environmental risk factors, and other biological impacts below.

Genetic Components

Despite the fact that anxiety disorders are not thought to be hereditary, genetic epidemiology research indicates that people with a family history of anxiety disorders are more likely to develop anxiety disorders themselves. For example, evidence indicates that the occurrence of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is at least partly inherited. According to family and twin studies, there appears to be a 31.6% genetic heritability for GAD. This indicates that genetic and epigenetic processes account for about 31.6% of the variations in the risk of anxiety disorders. The majority of studies concur that a combination of genetic factors, rather than a single “anxiety gene,” is ultimately responsible for anxiety disorders.


Research on candidate genes reveals a strong hereditary relationship between anxiety disorders. For example, agoraphobia and panic disorder can coexist. Researchers came to the conclusion that agoraphobia and panic disorder probably have genetic roots after conducting a sizable twin study on a number of anxiety disorders. The study was published in the journal Depression and Anxiety (Depress Anxiety).

Genetic epidemiology research have linked anxiety-related traits to changes in gene expression affecting 5-HTT, MAOA, and several other genes. A serotonin transporter gene called 5-HTT has a strong correlation with a number of mental conditions, such as anxiety and major depressive disorder. One neurotransmitter that helps in brain communication is serotonin. Harvard Medical School claims that the main way that heredity affects anxiety and a person’s ability to regulate their stress response is through modifications to this and other brain functions. The reason selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are effective in treating anxiety disorders may be attributed to the connection between the serotonin transporter gene and anxiety.

Monoamine Oxidase

An enzyme called monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) is responsible for degrading excess neurotransmitters. Research has discovered a connection between self-reported anxiety and MAOA. Similar to 5-HTT, MAOA has an effect on neurotransmitter function, which is critical for mood regulation. These two genes illustrate how genetic impacts might play a role in the development of an illness, but they are just two of the many candidate genes that could cause anxiety. A genome-wide association study’s findings revealed a number of related genetic factors as well as the possibility that common gene variants make up a large portion of the genetic architecture underlying anxiety disorders. The researchers of the study also discovered a strong hereditary association between insomnia, depression, and anxiety. They also came to the conclusion that, independent of the degree of anxiety, differences in the candidate genes remained constant.