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How Learning Disabilities Cause Anxiety

Studies have shown that more people suffer from learning disabilities than previously thought, and unfortunately those learning disabilities cause more than simply troubles in school - they can lead to developmental issues, and possibly anxiety.

Anxiety is very common for children and adults with learning disabilities, and unfortunately these anxieties may make it even harder to overcome the learning issues.

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Learning Problems and the Development of Anxiety

It's easy to see why learning disabilities can lead to the development of anxiety. In some cases, the disability itself may be the cause of anxiety. However, most of the time that anxiety develops as a result of how much of a struggle it is to live with a learning disability. Get an idea of how much you're struggling with my free anxiety test.

Social anxiety is perhaps one of the biggest problems. Social anxiety often develops because those with trouble learning feel out of place. All learning disabilities are different. Some people simply have learning problems, like dyslexia, but otherwise no separate trouble functioning. Others have developmental problems that contribute to trouble learning. Even though these conditions are very different, they share the same feeling of being unable to fit in with others. Feeling like an outsider and feeling self-conscious over your abilities can cause similar development of social anxiety.


Another problem is simply confusion. Learning disabilities tend to create fairly profound confusion, and that confusion can contribute to some serious problems with understanding and recognizing the world around you.

Learning disabilities tend to amplify the embarrassment a person feels when they make a mistake, and the way that they feel when they're confused on a subject even if they otherwise have not embarrassed themselves can still feel as though they aren't fitting in. Not to mention that constant confusion is simply stressful. No matter your intelligence level or disability, feeling as though you're struggling to process information stresses the brain, which in turn can lead to the development of anxiety.

How Others Interact

Of course, it's not just the way you feel that can cause you to develop anxiety. It's also the way others treat you, and the experiences you have growing up as a child with a learning problem.

Unfortunately, learning disabilities are not well understood in this country, so it's not unlikely that you suffered from stresses related to your condition. Whether it was being treated poorly by classmates, punished often by teachers, or yelled at by frustrated parents, children and adults whose learning needs need special attention often find that they are treated in a way that causes them to be more anxious.

Learning Disability Caused By Anxiety

One thing to remember is that anxiety itself can also cause learning problems. While anxiety can't cause a true learning disability, anxiety can be such a substantial distraction that it makes it hard for children and adults to learn, causing them to fall behind in a way that resembles learning problems.

What to Do About a Learning Disability and Anxiety

Even though your anxiety was caused by a learning disability, it is still its own separate issue and disorder. So you need to treat it like a separate condition and learn how to control your anxiety based on the symptoms you experience.

Try taking my free 7 minute anxiety test now. Learn more about your anxiety and its symptoms and find out how to control your anxiety in the future.

Start the test here.


Riddick, Barbara, et al. Self-esteem and anxiety in the educational histories of adult dyslexic students1099-0909(199912)5:4%3C227::AID-DYS146%3E3.0.CO;2-6/abstract). Dyslexia 5.4 (1999): 227-248.

Carroll, Julia M., and Jane E. Iles.An assessment of anxiety levels in dyslexic students in higher education. British journal of educational psychology 76.3 (2006): 651-662.

Whitehouse, Andrew JO, Tim D. Spector, and Lynn F. Cherkas.No clear genetic influences on the association between dyslexia and anxiety in a population-based sample of female twins. Dyslexia 15.4 (2009): 282-290.

Huntington, Deborah D., and William N. Bender.Adolescents with learning disabilities at risk?Emotional well-being, depression, suicide. Journal of Learning Disabilities 26.3 (1993): 159-166.

Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.

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