There could be a genetic connection between parents who experience anxiety and their anxious children, according to a new study.
The study was performed by researchers at the Department of Psychiatry and the Health Emotions Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers studied 600 rhesus multigenerational monkeys, exposed the younger ones to a mildly scary situation and studied their brains via imaging devices.
The researchers concluded that "35 percent of variation in anxiety-like tendencies can be explained by family history," notes the Daily Mail.
The study described overactive neural circuitry within the brains, which showed that metabolisms and anxiety-ridden temperaments probably share a genetic cause.
Because monkeys can likely inherit and pass genes that are related to anxious feelings, humans may do the same.
Dr. Ned Kalin, one of the lead authors, said:
Basically, we think that to a certain extent, anxiety can provide an evolutionary advantage because it helps an individual recognize and avoid danger, but when the circuits are over-active, it becomes a problem and can result in anxiety and depressive disorders.
Now that we know where to look, we can develop a better understanding of the molecular alterations that give rise to anxiety-related brain function.
Our genes shape our brains to help make us who we are.