What causes anxiety disorders?
Several things play a role in causing the overactive “fight or flight” that happens with anxiety disorders.
- Genetics A child who has a family member with an anxiety disorder is more likely to have one too. Children may inherit genes that make them prone to anxiety.
- Brain chemistry Genes help direct the way brain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) work. If specific brain chemicals are in short supply, or not working well, it can cause anxiety.
- Life situations Things that happen in a child’s life can be stressful and difficult to cope with. Loss, serious illness, death of a loved one, violence, or abuse can lead some children to become anxious.
- Learned behaviours Growing up in a family where others are fearful or anxious also can “teach” a child to be afraid too.
Anxiety disorders cause extreme fear and worry, and changes in a child’s behaviour, sleep, eating, or mood. Different anxiety disorders can affect children and teens.
In the upcoming steps we will cover these disorders.
© University of East Anglia