Although there are many theories about the root sources of anxiety, researchers are still exploring the causes of these complex disorders. In many cases, an anxiety disorder may develop as a result of multiple factors, such as:
- Family history: Having a parent or other close relative with an anxiety disorder can make a person more susceptible to these conditions, notes Mayo Clinic.
- History of trauma: Experiencing a traumatic event, such as child abuse or exposure to violence, increases the risk of developing an anxiety-related condition like PTSD.
- Substance abuse: The misuse of alcohol or drugs can cause neurological changes that may trigger or intensify anxiety. At the same time, anxiety can be a motivating factor in substance abuse.
- Overexposure to stress: Individuals who are constantly exposed to high levels of stress — emotional, psychological, or physical — are more likely to show symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
- Other mental illnesses: Psychiatric disorders often go hand in hand with anxiety. Someone with depression, for example, is more likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder than an individual with no other existing mental health issues.