Regardless of genetic risks, exposure to discrimination in life plays a significant role in developing anxiety and related disorders, suggests a new study.
Published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences journal, the study determined that even after controlling genetic risk for anxiety, depression and neuroticism, people reported greater discrimination experiences.
“The results demonstrate that discriminatory experiences can potentially cause stress and mental health problems regardless of the genetic constitution of the individual,” said researcher Adolfo G Cuevas, an assistant professor at Tufts University in the US.
To gain insight on the connection, the research team used data from a national probability sample of nearly 1,500 non-institutionalised, all English-speaking adults between 25 to 74 years in age.
Nearly 49 per cent of the sample were women.
Three self-report scales were used to measure discrimination and other forms of social exclusion, including everyday discrimination, major discrimination and chronic job discrimination.
After accounting for increased genetic liability for anxiety, depression, neuroticism, and other potential genetic and socio-demographic factors, the researchers found a high degree of interdependence between discrimination and anxiety.
The team said the findings demonstrate that alleviating the impact of discrimination has the potential to improve mental health within the overall population. (IANS)