Anxiety disorders are caused by complex interactions between your genetic makeup and experiences you have in the external world. It is important to understand that a genetic predisposition alone does not guarantee that a problem will develop. Certain experiences in your environment activate the genes associated with anxiety disorders, and they can occur early in childhood or not until later in life. This explains why some people experience anxiety problems early and consistently throughout their lives, while others do not develop anxiety disorder until adulthood.
Many people come to therapy in hopes of uncovering how or why anxiety became a problem. This quest can be relatively straightforward for someone whose anxiety disorder clearly developed after a difficult life event, such as the death of a loved one, losing a job, or experiencing violence or other trauma. However, some people who develop anxiety problems in adulthood may not be able to identify a difficult event that led to the problem, and others may have experienced anxiety as far back as they can remember. For people with these experiences, identifying the beginning of the disorder can be nearly impossible.
The good news is that we do not need to know exactly how the anxiety problem started in order to successfully treat it. Exploring the origins of an anxiety problem can add a richness to therapy, but it is a misconception that therapy should focus solely on finding a “root cause.” A modern therapy approach can directly target the anxiety problems, helping you get relief from anxiety that lasts.