How Anxiety Develops


Everyone is afraid of something. Perhaps it’s public speaking that quickens your heart rate, or walking home alone late at night. We’ve all felt anxious at one point or another. Yet, having an anxiety disorder is different. Chronic anxiety is crippling and can leave those afflicted too terrified and nervous to leave the house. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, roughly 40 million Americans live with debilitating anxiety disorders. Those afflicted suffer from weakness, nausea, dizziness, tremors, breathing difficulty, and heart palpitations. In more severe cases, those with anxiety disorders experience seizures. Many people with anxiety disorders avoid social situations for fear of being judged, embarrassed or humiliated. Others have recurring nightmares or flashbacks related to a traumatic event in the past.

How does anxiety develop?

Anxiety disorders are forged over years of experiences. In fact, any experience you’ve ever had can cause an anxiety disorder. And, despite how common they are, the specific causes of this mental illness are still unknown. What studies do show, though, is that anxiety disorders appear to run in families. However, as with most mental illnesses, researchers believe anxiety is caused by more than just genetics. Anxiety disorders likely develop from a complex set of risk factors including brain chemistry, personality, and life events. 

Less commonly, medical conditions are known to cause anxiety disorders. Heart disease, diabetes, seizures, thyroid problems, asthma, drug abuse and withdrawal, rare tumors that produce certain “fight or flight” hormones, and muscle cramps or spasms are all possible medical causes of anxiety. Most anxiety disorders develop in childhood and young adulthood. Therefore, if an anxiety disorder develops later in life, a medical condition is likely the source.

Studies also suggest that a person’s environment can cause anxiety and, in some cases, may trigger anxiety disorders by themselves. Long-term stress, like one would experience in an unhealthy relationship or at a particularly stressful job, can lead to anxiety disorders. One’s upbringing and life experiences can contribute, too. Other environmental factors include trauma, especially in those with PTSD, change, such as with a significant move or a divorce, and abuse or neglect. 

Anxiety disorders are incredibly complex and finding out the exact reasons why you have one can be difficult. However, the most important thing to understand is that no matter what causes your anxiety, it can always be treated.  

We’re here to help

Though anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses among children and adults, only about one third of those who suffer seek treatment. The good news is that anxiety disorders are highly treatable, and help is just a phone call away.

At Alvarado Parkway Institute in San Diego, we offer inpatient and outpatient programs for those who experience crippling anxiety. Our team of dedicated professionals knows that psychiatric illnesses are complicated disorders that require a customized treatment plan. That’s why offer diverse therapies, individualized treatment, power-packed programming and a continuum of care that is tailored to each patient’s changing needs.

Call our 24-hour crisis line at 619-667-6125 to start your recovery today. We would be honored to assist you on your journey towards a healthier, happier life.