As expecting parents, many of us spend countless hours wondering what our soon-to-be child will be like, what they will inherit.

Will baby have Mom’s hazel eyes or Dad’s baby blues? Straight teeth like Mom or a crooked smile like Dad? Whose skin tone will baby most closely match?

Will baby grow up to be tall or short?

Sometimes we’ll wonder whose personality traits baby will adopt.

Will baby grow to be quiet like Dad or life of the party like Mom? Will baby be more analytical or more intuitive?

Gravitate towards mathematics or the arts?

And many of us will also worry about our children inheriting the things we don’t love about ourselves; for some, that includes generalized anxiety disorder.

We understand that there are various contributing factors that come into play for someone to develop generalized anxiety disorder, including experiences and events, personal bent, and surprisingly- inherited anxiety.

Experiences and Events

We can all conjure up memories of feeling fear:

– Witnessing or being involved in a car accident

– Getting lost in a busy shopping center, feeling lost and alone

– Being approached by the school bully

For some, the examples can be even more horrific, including experiencing physical or emotional abuse or from being or having a loved one become terminally ill.

And then there are the times that only our subconscious remembers; moments where we were too young to remember or moments seemingly too insignificant to consciously hold on to.

– Crying as an infant because you can’t see, hear or smell your connection to the world; your mother

– Being left alone in an unfamiliar environment for the first time

– Witnessing an animal in an aggressive state

Personal Bent

Our personal bent, or our unique inclinations, also plays a factor in our susceptibility to developing generalized anxiety disorder.

Imagine two babies, crying for their mother’s attention during nap time. Both babies have been crying for five minutes, and Baby A eventually gives up and falls asleep. Baby B, on the other hand, continues to cry, despite how tired it is. Minutes pass, and Baby B is getting angrier at not having its cries answered, and continues on.

For many parents with multiple children, this example will resonate. Two children, born to the same parents, can have very different reactions to the exact same scenario. This demonstrates personal bent, and in some cases, explains why one child may be more susceptible to developing generalized anxiety disorder.

Inherited Anxiety

So, what about this idea of inheriting anxiety? Is that even possible?

Absolutely!

First, when we understand that memory (and the emotions that go along with them) lives in every cell in our body and we understand that we are created from our parents’ cells, we can start to understand that these memories can be passed along through generations at the subconscious level. Therefore, if your mother or father experienced unreleased anxiety, that anxiety could have been passed along to you at the cellular level.

Similarly, if your mother experienced ongoing anxiety during her pregnancy, that anxiety could be absorbed as you continued to grow and develop within her womb. The baby feels what you feel. Many expectant mothers pay careful attention to what they’re eating or drinking during pregnancy, reducing or eliminating things that they know are not good for baby. One might also consider their stress and anxiety, as it also affects the baby.

Now, we’re not suggesting that every unborn child will absorb every feeling of fear its mother or father experienced. Again, much of what will form the child will be his/her personal bent and events and experiences once they are born. But if a parent struggled with worry, nervousness, and anxiety, it is highly likely to play a role in the possibility of their child developing generalized anxiety disorder. There was a study done that demonstrated how fear could be passed down genetically, which was featured on the Dr. Oz Show

If your anxiety is prohibiting you from living the life you want, there is hope. Anxiety can be released, freeing you from the panic attacks, social isolation, and unfulfilled desires you are likely experiencing as a result of your anxiety. Visit www.overcomeanxiety.ca to learn more.