More research confirms that parents pass down anxiety to their kids. Before, several studies revealed that mental illnesses like anxiety disorders develop between family members.
Furthermore, a new study confirmed that mums most likely pass down their anxiety disorder to their daughters. On the other hand, dads without this mental illness prevent the likelihood of their sons from developing the disorder.
When I learned the results of this study, I confirmed my suspicions of developing anxiety from my mother. It also explains why some causes of anxiousness are common among the females in my family.
As we go further, I’ll be relating my experience with the study’s findings I mentioned. With this, more daughters and sons can understand why some of their mental illnesses developed at home.
This discussion may concern some parents but I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. None of us can tell whether our kids will inherit the stress we endured. If you got your mum’s anxiety, it shows the close bond you share with them.
Additionally, I hope that this study validates the anxiety most daughters unintentionally got from their mums. There are a lot of factors surrounding anxiety disorders that we just can’t escape.
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Studies Confirm That Parents Pass Down Anxiety to Their Kids
Before confirming that parents pass down their anxiety, researchers studied the contribution of nature versus nurture. They examined the data of around 400 children around the age of 10.
These kids also participated in a study centred on families prone to mood disorders. With this, the experts evaluated how genetics and gender played a role in developing an anxiety disorder.
Moreover, the study aimed to determine if kids with anxiety disorders got it from same-sex or opposite-sex parent-child pairs. Overall, they concluded that mums diagnosed with anxiety disorders most likely pass it down to their daughters.
Daughters Often Inherit Anxiety From Mum
The conclusion of the study highlighted which parents pass down anxiety to their kids. Research suggests that modelling and other environmental factors contribute to the possibility.
To put things simply, a mum who suffers from anxiety disorder might influence their daughter to develop it as well. When we say the term modelling, it involves the way parents mould their kids into achieving what they couldn’t.
When this happens, the daughters end up feeling lost or dependent on what their mothers want them to do. For example, a mum who once dreamed of being a ballerina encourages their daughter to become one. However, she never considered the possibility that her daughter might not like dancing ballet.
Meanwhile, eldest daughters often develop an anxiety disorder from mums who passed pressure on them. They often centre their goals around their parents or siblings instead of focusing on themselves.
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I Developed Anxiety Like My Mum
When I learned the results of the study, I immediately thought of scenarios I experienced. Though unintentionally, my parents pass down anxiety and stress to me and my brother.
Both of my parents work in the medical field; however, my brother and I chose a different line of work. This caused our relatives to compare our career choices with our parents’.
The pressure from our relatives worsened when my father passed away; My brother and I were still very young. Naturally, my mom suffered from anxiety due to her husband’s death and the need to raise us by herself.
My mother became a single mother out of the blue and it took a toll on her mental health. She was eventually diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
Due to her struggles, I was expected to step up and help our family. My relatives kept pressuring me despite knowing that I was still in elementary school.
The expectations that my mum and my relatives set out for me ultimately caused the development of my anxiety disorder. I also struggled to prioritise my emotions because I needed to put my family first before me.
I Can’t Stop Trying to Please Everyone
After my father’s passing, my family moved to my maternal grandmother’s house. We needed the change of environment because remembering my dad in our old house was too painful.
At first, everything seemed fine because we were close to the maternal side of our family. However, things took a turn when I needed to change schools.
It took me a while to admit but I never properly mourned for my dad. My relatives already expected me to be the stronger one while my mother mourned for months. Meanwhile, my brother couldn’t grasp the situation due to his young age.
Enrolling at a new school and meeting new classmates and teachers felt like a blur to me. I also experienced being bullied for opening up about my father’s passing.
On the other hand, I tried to confide in my grandmother and mother but they only wanted me to be stronger. They unknowingly dictated what I was supposed to feel instead of validating my emotions.
After looking back on my experience, I related it to being modelled into an image of the ideal eldest daughter. I learned to brush aside my emotions and only feel what they expect me to feel.
Additionally, I inherited my mum’s habit of maintaining a neutral view. I needed to refuse to take sides because I’ll be deemed ungrateful or biased.
At that time, I obeyed them like any Asian child and aimed to please them with my achievements. I let go of my impulsive wishes and followed everything they expected.
Unfortunately, pushing their goals for me made me depend on their decisions. I then struggled to become independent when I entered college.
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How I Realised My Anxiety
When more people started to raise awareness of mental illnesses, I learned about the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder. Earlier, the study recognised how parents pass down anxiety disorders to their kids.
We get anxiety from feeling overwhelmed with stress and pressure. An anxiety disorder, on the other hand, works as a mental illness that developed over time.
Contrary to popular belief, suffering from an anxiety disorder is different from struggling with anxiety or stress. You also shouldn’t expect us to instantly find a cause for suddenly being nervous or anxious.
Among the different types of anxiety disorders, I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Those who suffer from this mental state don’t just struggle with panic breakdowns and crying fits.
In truth, we struggle to anticipate when our breakdowns occur. When they do, the disorder often causes rashes and anxiety breakdowns that last from minutes to hours. We also suffer from excessive sweating, sudden bouts of pain, and shortness of breath.
In most cases, other people fail to notice when a person with GAD is suffering from a breakdown. Most of us hide it well or use prescription medication that helps us control it.
How Can I Help My Kids Cope With Anxiety?
If you have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, we encourage you to seek professional help for your kids. This mental state usually prevents us from noticing how it affects people around us.
When you notice that your kid is suffering from anxiety symptoms, we urge you to book an appointment with a counsellor or psychologist. As an alternative, you can also help them calm down with the following tips:
- Help them regain proper breathing. Convince them to follow you as you slowly inhale and exhale to calm them down.
- Stay with them until they finally calm down.
- Relay words of reassurance and encourage them to feel better by calming down.
- If they start to open up, hear them out. Don’t interrupt them unless they are having trouble breathing.
- Urge them to sip or drink some water. This helps them regain their breathing.