You may think that the person you were as a baby is entirely different from who you are as an adult. The truth is that the anxiety you may have had as a baby can catch up with you later. A recent study published in the journal, “Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Science” proved that your temperament as a baby could predict your personality and social experiences as an adult.

What Does the Study Say About Inhibition Levels?

One behavioral trait that we have inherited throughout evolution is inhibition, as it protects us from scary situations. Babies with high levels of inhibition would be overly cautious, fearful, and have avoidant responses to the unfamiliar. Studies have shown that children who have social interaction problems and express social withdrawal are at a higher risk for anxiety and social anxiety disorders.

Similar studies showed that when inhibited children reach their 20s, they are more at-risk for anxiety, depression, socially withdrawn, and substance abuse disorders. It also took them longer to find full-time jobs, leave their parents’ homes, find romance, and become parents.

Does Inhibition Influence Mental Health in Adulthood?

After following 165 infants for three decades, researchers wanted to see if a baby’s inhibition shapes their personality, relationships, career, educational success, and mental health in adulthood. Researchers examined a 14 month-old’s behavior in three settings- playing in an unfamiliar playroom, exposure to an adult stranger, and a new robot toy.

The babies were studied based on their hesitancy and how long they stuck with their mothers. When the participants reached 15, their brain activity was recorded while they completed tests in quickly identifying numbers. At age 26, it was discovered that babies with higher inhibition results found it harder to speak to authority figures, strangers, or loved ones. Those with heightened error sensitivity would experience higher levels of anxiety, depression, and social anxiety as adults.

How Can Parents See the Signs?

Pay close attention to your child and check for signs of reservation and worry. You can help your child early to help them overcome and approach anxiety-filled situations. If your child’s anxiety is interfering in their life, consider taking them to a cognitive behavioral therapist to help conquer their fears. By noticing your baby’s mental health early on, you can plan ahead to help them when they are older.

Anxiety can be diagnosed and treated at any age. Alta Loma treats young boys and men of any age for mental health issues through individualized therapy, CBT, DBT, MI, recreational activities, life skills courses, mindfulness, and more. For more information, please call us at (866) 457-3843.