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Why anxious parents can lead to anxious children
As it turns out, anxietys connection to family affairs extends well beyond just the stress that comes with spending holidays with the in-laws. - photo by JJ Feinauer
As it turns out, anxietys connection to family affairs extends well beyond just the stress that comes with spending holidays with the in-laws.

In fact, new research suggests that anxiety may be hereditary.

According to an article by The Daily Beasts Anand Veeravagu, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which is the official scientific journal of the United States National Academy of Sciences, recently reported that brain scans of monkeys show one's family tree makes a big difference when it comes to developing illnesses related to anxiety.

A young monkey was more likely to experience greater anxiety and demonstrate greater brain activity in specific neural circuits if it had a family history of such anxiety, Veeravagu wrote.

The big indicator, according to The Daily Mails Victoria Woolaston, is that scientists can now see that what she calls an overactive brain circuit is hereditary, and such brain makeup is typically linked to anxiety disorders.

Overactive brain circuits have also been linked to other disorders, such as insomnia and depression.

According to Veeravagu, this newly confirmed connection between the high activity in certain areas of the brain and anxiety could make a huge difference for those who want to combat the effects of anxiety in their lives.

Patients who know they have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, for example, are more likely to seek regular checkups by their doctor and stay invested in their health, Veeravagu explained. Similarly, if patients knew they were more likely to develop anxiety-related disorders, maybe they too would feel empowered to stay ahead of the disease by seeking counseling or lowering daily stress levels.

However, it is also important to note, according to Woolaston, the researchers found family history was a likely possible explanation for only 35 percent of variation in anxiety-like tendencies.

This isnt the first time anxiety has been linked to genetics. As The Atlantics Dana Smith reported in 2013, recent explorations of epigenetics or changes made to our genes due to experiences have found anxieties developed by individuals during their lifetime can be passed down to their children with the added caveat that the field of epigenetics is still in its infancy.

Whether or not parents need to worry about passing down particular anxieties due to epigenetics remains unclear. But either way, understanding the family link for many difficulties associated with anxiety can hopefully help those who suffer identify signs earlier and seek the appropriate treatments.
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