Anxiety Disorders, What Are The Risk Factors and Triggers For The Disease?

There are several different anxiety disorders including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Phobias, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Separation Anxiety Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In this Mental Health Guide article we will discuss the risk factors for developing an anxiety disorder and the real-life events that might trigger them.

Risk Factors for Anxiety Disorder

Here are the most common risk factors identified through many years of research and high-quality studies. Gender plays a major role in anxiety disorders. Women are more likely to suffer from one or more of these disorders than men. The rate is twice as high for women in all anxiety disorders but OCD where it is about equal.

Secondly, age is a factor in developing severe anxiety. OCD, phobias and separation anxiety are typically first observed in childhood, though OCD can have adult-onset too. Social phobias and panic disorders tend to show up in the later teen years and into young adulthood.

Thirdly, medical conditions can be a risk factor or cause of some anxiety disorders. This is more than being sick and then becoming anxious about it. That would not be characterized as anxiety disorder necessarily. The ailments related to anxiety disorders include sleep apnea, migraine headaches, mitral valve prolapse, irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome. No causal link has been firmly established however.

Finally, heredity might be a risk factor. While a gene responsible for anxiety disorders has not been identified, the fact that these disorders tend to run in families has caused researchers to suggest a genetic factor.

Triggers for Anxiety Disorders

If a link can be established between the physical ailments and the disorders, they could be triggers. There are other real-life triggers too. Post-traumatic stress disorders are triggered by ongoing trauma in early childhood into adulthood. It’s not just war either. Trauma resulting from abuse and neglect can trigger PTSD. Most experts think that the worst cases of PTSD are found in those who might be prone to anxiety to begin with.

Trauma, stress and difficult situations can trigger anxiety disorders and depression in many people. These difficulties include significant loss such as the death of a family member or a divorce, the end of a romantic relationship, the loss of a job or other vocational problems, the loss of social network caused by moving away from family and friends, abuse within a family and a lifestyle that goes against one’s principles or religious beliefs.

There are treatments demonstrated to help with all types of anxiety disorders, so talk with your doctor about your treatment options.