What Causes An Anxiety Disorder?

Dr. Cathy Frank answers the question: 'What Causes An Anxiety Disorder?'

— -- Question: What causes an anxiety disorder?

Answer: We don't know all the reasons why people develop anxiety disorders. We think it's a complex interaction of a number of factors. We certainly know that genetics plays a role. For example, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder have a genetic link and tend to run in families. We also know that stressors in and of themselves can cause anxiety. But we don't yet know why two people could experience similar stress such as a trauma, an assault, and have very different reactions. One may deal with it normally, one may develop posttraumatic stress disorder.

We also know that how people think about themselves and the world has a large role in how they handle anxiety, and may lead to development of anxiety disorders. Lastly, we know that there are neurotransmitters or chemical messengers in our brain that also may relate to why some people develop anxiety and some don't. Some of those chemical messengers lead us to be more excited. Some of them lead us to be more inhibited, and that out-of-balance reaction between those messengers may play a role in anxiety disorders.

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