Your Anxiety Is Not Your Fault

Your anxiety is not your fault. There are many causes of anxiety, but you are not one of them. Here are five facts to prove anxiety is not your fault.

In a fit of anxiety, or in the throes of a panic attack, our minds sometimes chastise us for being so anxious. Our brains are consumed with worries, fears, and thoughts of going crazy, and our bodies overcome with agitation, sweating, trembling, aches, and pains. And yet our minds produce another thought that slaps us painfully across the face: “What is wrong with me and why am I like this?” To add insult to injury, sometimes when we turn to someone, perhaps a friend or a family member, in search of understanding and help, the message we receive is “What’s wrong with you? Why are you so anxious?

Personally, I have never found this line of thinking and questioning to be very helpful. It certainly doesn’t make my anxiety disappear or even lessen it a touch. If anything, it makes it worse because now I think it’s my fault that I’m anxious. My mind tells me it is. Much of society tells me it is. Therefore it must be, and I should get over it. Right? Wrong!

Anxiety is Not Your Fault, And Here's Why

Psychological research is beginning to shed some light on what causes anxiety (if we understand the cause, we can treat anxiety by getting to the root of the problem); however, thus far researchers haven’t been able to definitively pinpoint exact causes. That said, we do know some things:

  1. Genetics can contribute to anxiety, and sometimes anxiety runs in families.
  2. Someone’s environment (stress level, lifestyle, etc.) can contribute to anxiety.
  3. Neurology, things happening in the brain, play a role.
  4. Learned behaviors can make someone anxious (For example, if a parent responds to the world in an anxious fashion, a child can learn anxious patterns. This does not mean, though, that parents cause anxiety in their kids. Modeling a behavior might be a contributing factor in anxiety’s development, but it’s not a single-handed cause.)
  5. Psychological factors can increase anxiety, particularly unhealthy thought patterns.

The Most Important Information Experts Know

The above list delineates what scientists know about the causes of anxiety. Even more important is what they know about what does not cause it: you. You are in no way the cause of your anxiety and living with anxiety is not your fault.

There are many causes of anxiety. You are not one of them. Your anxiety is not your fault and here's why.Sure, many times we develop behaviors that can perpetuate our anxiety, such as avoidance of things that make us anxious or the tendency to interpret things negatively (those pesky unhealthy thought patterns). These are not causes of your anxiety. These are merely coping mechanisms that people develop to deal with their anxiety; coping mechanisms that lead to a vicious cycle of worsening anxiety. The good news is that coping skills can be changed. We can learn new ways to deal with, and thus reduce and even eliminate, anxiety.

When anxiety or panic has you in a choke hold, don’t let your mind, or the minds of others, tighten the grip. Remind yourself that anxiety is something you’re dealing with for the time being. It doesn't mean that there’s something wrong with you, and it certainly isn't your fault.

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APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2014, July 30). Your Anxiety Is Not Your Fault, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, and Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps. She has also written five critically acclaimed, award-winning novels about life with mental health challenges. She delivers workshops for all ages and provides online and in-person mental health education for youth. She has shared information about creating a quality life on podcasts, summits, print and online interviews and articles, and at speaking events. Tanya is a Diplomate of the American Institution of Stress helping to educate others about stress and provide useful tools for handling it well in order to live a healthy and vibrant life. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Stuart P. D. Fraser
August, 23 2014 at 7:20 pm

Thank you having read this article one feels a sense of relief. I’ve always been fearful/anxious and pessimistic so again “Thank you”… take care

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