What Are the Root Causes of Anxiety and Depression?

Medically Reviewed on 8/16/2021
root causes of anxiety and depression
What causes anxiety and depression? Learn about symptoms and potential root causes that may increase your risk of developing mood disorders

While anxiety and depression are not the same, they do share some similarities:

  • Anxiety is characterized by excessive fear or apprehension about the future. People with anxiety often experience unreasonable and persistent stress, and sometimes deal with panic attacks and sudden feelings of severe worry. 
  • Depression is characterized by excessive feelings of sadness that negatively affects the way a person feels, thinks, and acts to the point where it interferes with their daily life.

Learn about symptoms of anxiety and depression and potential root causes of these conditions.

What are symptoms of anxiety and depression?

Anxiety

Depression

  • Intense constant sadness
  • Decreased interest in daily activities
  • Changes in appetite that cause weight loss or weight gain
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of uselessness
  • Inappropriate guilt
  • Trouble thinking, focusing, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Lack of self care

5 root causes of anxiety and depression

  1. Family history: You may be at a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression if you have a family history of anxiety, depression, or another mental illness.
  2. Childhood trauma: Stressful experiences during childhood can influence the way your body responds to fear or distressing circumstances.
  3. Brain structure: Biochemical imbalances in the brain can increase the risk of anxiety and depression. This is especially true for depression if the front lobe of the cerebrum is less active, although researchers are unsure whether this occurs before or after the onset of depressive symptoms.
  4. Medical conditions: Certain conditions can put you at a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression. Underlying issues include chronic illness, sleep deprivation, chronic pain, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  5. Medication use: Certain medications or even alcohol abuse can affect your risk of developing anxiety and depression.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/16/2021
References
Bhatt NV. Anxiety Disorders. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/286227-overview

Halverson JL. Depression. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/286759-overview