Anxiety disorders impact millions of people at some point during their lifetimes.\u00a0 From excessive worry to extreme avoidance of certain types of social situations, anxiety is distressing and can even be debilitating.\u00a0 It negatively impacts relationships, damages or derails careers, and often causes self-confidence to plummet.\u00a0 It can make what should be a happy life feel like a living hell. Some individuals are definitely more vulnerable to developing an anxiety disorder than others, although whether or not that occurs is not something that can be predicted accurately.\u00a0 However, experts have found that there are several factors that seem to notably increase your risk. You\u2019re a woman \u2013 Unfair though it may be, the harsh reality is that women tend to be twice as likely as men to develop an anxiety disorder \u2013 with the exception of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).\u00a0 While it\u2019s difficult to determine exactly why this is, it\u2019s likely due to a combination of things.\u00a0 Women, especially those who are mothers, are often shouldering significant burdens in the sense that they\u2019re expected to take care of everyone else \u2013 and at the neglect of their own needs.\u00a0 That\u2019s a tremendous weight to carry and can lend itself to a variety of fears. Hormonal factors may also make women more susceptible to anxiety. For example, post-menopausal women have a greater risk for developing panic disorder. Another reason for this major imbalance between the sexes is that women are much more likely to seek help for anxiety.\u00a0 Men are socialized to regard anxiety and fear as a weakness; as a result, they\u2019re much less likely to admit that they\u2019re feeling anxious, let alone talk to their doctor or enlist the help of a therapist.\u00a0 So, this may skew statistics to a fair degree. You\u2019re a minor \u2013 It\u2019s no surprise that with age and life experience, we tend to gain perspective and \u2013 generally \u2013 be less fearful.\u00a0\u00a0 For example, as children, it didn\u2019t take much to scare us. Imaginary monsters lurked under the bed, and the dark was especially ominous.\u00a0 Those types of fears generally dissipated as we got a little older. When it comes to risk of anxiety, children are most vulnerable to developing separation anxiety, OCD, and specific phobias (e.g. a fear of dogs or water).\u00a0 Teens have a greater risk of developing panic disorder and social phobia. Granted, anxiety disorders that start in childhood or adolescence can continue for many years \u2013 or even throughout life.\u00a0 If they\u2019re not treated, they increase the risk of additional problems including drug and alcohol problems or depression. You\u2019ve experienced something traumatic \u2013 A traumatic event increases everyone\u2019s risk of developing an anxiety disorder, especially Acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).\u00a0 The risk is even greater if other risk factors were already present when the trauma occurred.\u00a0 Phobias may also develop following a trauma. For example, someone who was in a very serious car accident may develop a phobia of driving. Trauma makes you more vulnerable to anxiety because it shatters your sense of safety.\u00a0 Life no longer feels predictable, and any sense of stability or security can seem very foreign for some time. You have certain personality traits \u2013 Children who are shy or have a hard time handling uncertainty are more vulnerable to developing an anxiety disorder in adolescence or adulthood.\u00a0 The latter are much more likely to struggle with worry, especially as they realize that there are so many things in life over which we simply have no control.\u00a0\u00a0 Other personality traits that increase anxiety risk include having an anxious personality as a child, being passive, and being reluctant to try out new things.\u00a0 The latter two traits make you particularly prone to developing panic disorders at some\u00a0 point. \u00a0People who are overly analytical can also struggle with anxiety, particularly OCD, due to their tendency to obsess about things rather than let them go. You have a family history of anxiety -\u00a0 Many psychiatric disorders tend to run in families \u2013 and anxiety disorders are no exception.\u00a0 While it would be easy to assume that this is due to genetics, it\u2019s more likely to be due to learned behavior.\u00a0 For example, if you grew up with an anxious mother, then you may have learned to be fearful as well.\u00a0 Children keenly observe how their parents respond to various events; if the response was often a fearful one, the child learns to be fearful.\u00a0\u00a0 On the flip side, resilience and the ability to step back and keep things in perspective are also traits children can learn from their parents \u2013 both of which help keep anxiety at bay.\u00a0 \u00a0\u00a0 If you have a first degree relative (i.e. a parent or sibling) with panic disorder, you have a significantly higher risk of developing the disorder as well. Your parents were overprotective \u2013 Overprotective parents essentially teach their children that the world is a very unsafe place, making them more vulnerable to developing anxiety at some point in their life.\u00a0 By being too protective, and limiting their children\u2019s exposure so significantly, they don\u2019t let their children venture out on their own and learn to rely on their own strengths and judgment. You have a sleep disorder \u2013 Insomnia makes individuals who\u2019ve experienced a trauma more vulnerable to developing PTSD following a traumatic event.\u00a0 If you have sleep apnea, you may have a heightened risk of developing panic disorder.\u00a0 You have a medical issue \u2013 Certain health issues can increase your risk of panic disorder. These include IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), chronic fatigue syndrome, migraine headaches, and PMS (premenstrual syndrome) to name a few.\u00a0 Additionally, some medications can trigger symptoms of anxiety.\u00a0 You\u2019re lack social support or feel disconnected \u2013 A strong sense of community can play an important role in keeping anxiety at bay.\u00a0 Social connections increase our sense of safety and stability, and also provide essential support.\u00a0 It\u2019s much easier to push anxious thoughts out of your mind when you know there are people who care and have your best interests at heart.\u00a0 When you\u2019re isolated, however, it\u2019s easier to perceive the world around you as a hostile or threatening one. Risk factors don\u2019t mean that you will develop an anxiety disorder, but they do give you valuable information.\u00a0 If you have a family history of anxiety or have other risk factors listed above, pay attention if you find yourself feeling anxious. Anxiety disorders often respond well to proper treatment, so don\u2019t hesitate to seek help if symptoms begin to appear.\u00a0 The best treatment for anxiety is therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy. If you know you\u2019re vulnerable to developing anxiety, you can also make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk.\u00a0 For example, practicing yoga, meditating and exercising regularly are all good ways to reduce stress and lessen your risk of anxiety.\u00a0 They\u2019re also very helpful if you already suffer from anxiety.\u00a0 You can also learn relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, to help you relax and stay calm. Whatever you do, don\u2019t let pride get in the way of reaching out for help if you do struggle with anxiety.\u00a0 While some degree of stress is normal, anxiety disorders are not.\u00a0 You can learn to manage them and even overcome them with proper treatment.