While there are some known risk factors for anxiety, the cause of anxiety is relatively unknown. Here are some of the potential factors that could cause a person to suffer from anxiety.


Stress is a major catalyst for anxiety. Anxiety can come from numerous daily stressors (work, relationships, etc.), and those who don’t adequately deal with stress run a higher risk of developing chronic anxiety.

Chemical Imbalance

Some research suggests that anxiety may be linked to certain neurotransmitters, or special chemicals in the brain that move information from one cell to another. Disturbances or imbalances in these neurotransmitters can cause numerous problems, including anxiety.

Anxiety can also be caused by disturbances to the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear and anxiety.

Genetics & Family History

Genes and upbringing can also play a role in anxiety.

People raised in a stressful or tension-filled home have a greater chance of developing anxiety. The same is true of children raised by overbearing, overprotective, or over-demanding parents.

Anxiety often develops in children who are put under pressure to exceed in school, sports, or other activities. Also, children who grow up in abusive homes run a much higher risk of developing anxiety and panic attacks. 


Stressful events and trauma can lead to the development of generalized anxiety disorder. These include physical, mental, or sexual abuse, divorce, changing jobs or schools, or death of a loved one.

Severely traumatic episodes, such as war, can cause stronger types of anxiety, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.


Some medications (such as amphetamines, decongestants, diet pills, and bronchodilators) can cause anxiety as a side-effect, while withdrawal from other substances (drugs, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol) can also cause anxiety. Medications designed to treat anxiety, can, unfortunately, also cause rebound anxiety if they are not managed properly.