Causes of Anxiety (Top 7)

Feeling anxious, worried or tense for an upcoming stressful event is completely normal. However, if you are feeling this way constantly and don’t feel better no matter what you try, chances are that you may have an anxiety disorder.

There are various causes of anxiety to look out for, which we will be discussing at length, through this article.

What are the causes of anxiety?

Anxiety can be caused by many factors such as:

  • Health related problems
  • Issues in your Personal Life
  • Work and/or Education related
  • Trauma
  • Mental Health Disorders
  • Other External Factors

Finding the underlying cause of anxiety can be very challenging. Some symptoms of anxiety include restlessness, nervousness, shortness of breath, sweating, elevated heart rate, panic, as well as fear.

Now let’s take a look at each one of these causes at more length:

Health Related

Some medical conditions or medications can cause anxiety disorders or anxiety attacks in people. 

Illness 

Some people may undergo anxiety due to various medical conditions such as heart disease. People suffering from chronic illnesses experience anxiety due to the nature of their illness. For example, cancer can be a reason for extreme stress in the body which leads to anxiety.

Heart Illnesses such as heart attack, heart failure, coronary artery disease, etc. can be a cause for your anxiety as there is insufficient blood flow to the heart and increased blood pressure in the body.

Medications

For some people, their anxiety can be induced from side effects of the use of a few medications. Medications for treating thyroid and asthma can include anxiety related side effects. 

Medication induced anxiety can also take place when someone stops taking anti-anxiety medicines such as benzodiazepines. This type of anxiety is triggered due to withdrawal symptoms. 

Weight Gain or Loss

Excessive weight gain or obesity can lead to various heart diseases which in turn can be a cause for anxiety. Rapid gain of weight can also be signs of other underlying medical conditions. 

Some weight loss supplements have anxiety inducing properties that may be the cause for your anxiety. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and choosing to reduce weight in a more natural way can help prevent unnecessary anxiety.

Personal Life

Many factors in our personal lives can be the reason for our anxiety.

Genetics

Many people are unaware of the fact that just like many other illnesses, anxiety disorders can also be inherited from your biological parents. If there is a history of anxiety disorder in your family then you are more likely to inherit the disorder from them. 

Relationship

Sometimes, strain in your relationship can cause anxiety or panic attacks. If you and your partner are not getting along or are constantly fighting then that may be the cause of your anxiety.

This anxiety may be induced due to fear of abandonment, where you may be worried that your partner may leave you because of the friction between you two. Anxiety can also be triggered if you are worried about the integrity of your partner. 

Family

If you have constant fights and arguments with your family or are constantly worried about their well-being then that may be what is causing your anxiety. Whether you are close to your family or not, you will still be worrying about them at the back of your mind.

Disputes between family members can also be a cause for your distress. For instance, if your teenage children are not getting along with each other and spend all their time bickering and arguing, that may cause you some psychological stress which leads to your anxiety. 

Financial

As the famous saying goes, “mo money, mo problems”, sometimes improper financial planning can lead to anxiety. More money means more taxes, a higher standard of living and higher expenses which many people find difficult to cope with. 

On the other hand, if you are going through some financial trouble, especially with loans and debts, that may be a crucial reason for your anxiety. Money is an important part of our livelihood and sudden loss or shortage of money can lead to an immense amount of stress.

Work and/or Education

People struggling to find a balance between work life and personal life can experience anxiety. 

Pressure

Coping with pressure from work or education can be a lot to deal with. Sometimes, people choose to study and work, simultaneously due to student loans.  Both academic and work pressure can be quite overwhelming for one person. This can lead to severe anxiety. 

Being able to juggle between work and college assignments can get extremely stressful especially when both need to meet certain deadlines. Anxiety may be induced due to lack of sleep in such cases or just simply from the fact that the workload is too much to handle.

Stress Management

People with poor stress management skills can feel overworked and burnt out pretty quickly which may cause them frequent anxiety attacks. Handling the stress of work or academics can get challenging for some people and the inability to handle stress efficiently leads to anxiety. 

Time Management

Meeting deadlines on time can get very stressful especially when there is more than one deadline to meet. Managing time can get challenging for people that may be juggling between multiple projects. 

Whether you are studying or working or both, if you find it difficult to manage your time, worrying about it may be causing you additional stress which in turn may be the cause of your anxiety.

Trauma

Various forms of traumatic events can fuel a person’s anxiety attack or even be the onset of an anxiety disorder. 

Emotional Trauma

If you are experiencing, or had experienced in the past, some sort of emotional turmoil which may be because of some unresolved issues then chances are that your anxiety may be because of this distress. 

Some people are burdened with emotional baggage that they are unable to deal with and end up suppressing them deep inside their subconscious mind. These kinds of unresolved emotions can trigger anxiety and panic attacks. 

PTSD

People suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are more susceptible to anxiety. Going through traumatic events in your life causes a deep subconscious wound that takes a long time to heal. 

With proper treatment, people with PTSD may be able to overcome their traumatic experience and lead long, healthy lives but may still experience some level of anxiety from time to time. 

Death or Loss

Coping with death or loss of a loved one can be extremely difficult. Losing a loved one from a break up can cause you a lot of psychological distress. The longing and uncertainty of whether or not your loved one will come back to you can be a cause for anxiety.

Death of someone close can greatly impact a person’s psychological well-being, if not dealt with in a proper manner. Grieving the death of someone close to you takes time and if you do not move at your own pace, you may succumb to anxiety later on.

Abuse

Abuse can be of different types, namely – physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and verbal. A person who has gone through any kind of abuse in a small or large magnitude, takes time to heal. In this process, they may experience some anxiety. 

Some victims of abuse also develop anxiety disorders and are constantly living in fear. With therapy and medication, they may be able to overcome this with time. 

Mental Health Disorders

Several Mental Health Illnesses can be classified under anxiety disorder:

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorders are sudden bursts of heightened fear or panic. Panic attacks may cause tremors, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, chest pains, rapid heart rates, dizziness and at times nausea. 

The symptoms of a panic attack are similar to those of a heart attack which causes a person to be more terrified. Panic attacks can occur before an impending dreadful situation however they can also occur without a trigger, at times.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

People with generalized anxiety disorder are always worried and tense about anything and everything in their lives. These kinds of anxiety attacks don’t usually have a trigger and are more long lasting. 

People with GAD have difficulty in focusing, have disturbed sleeping patterns and are generally very agitated. They find simple tasks and daily functioning to be challenging. 

Specific Phobias

Phobias are an irrational fear of specific things or situations. People may have phobias of spiders, height, water, fire or even closed spaces. In these cases, they experience extreme anxiety and panic when exposed to these specific stimuli. 

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation anxiety disorder takes place when a person is physically away from their loved one who provides them with safety and security. This is most common in children who are attached to their parents and experience anxiety when separated from them. 

Other External Factors

Apart from the above factors, there are other external factors that may cause anxiety. 

Caffeine

The effects of caffeine can stimulate anxiety attacks. People who are dealing with anxiety should avoid caffeine as it can trigger anxiety attacks and increase the frequency of these attacks. 

Substance Abuse

Alcohol or drug use can trigger panic attacks and anxiety attacks. People who rely on substances are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms which may cause an increase in their anxiety. 

Unforeseen Circumstances

Many environmental factors like natural disasters and pandemics are unpredictable and occur very suddenly. These types of unforeseen circumstances can cause anxiety among many people. 

The unpredictability of these circumstances and the lack of control one has in such situations are a big concern and thus, a trigger for panic and anxiety disorders. 

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed 6 different domains for the cause of anxiety. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Causes of Anxiety

What are the main causes of anxiety?

There can be many causes for anxiety but some of the main causes are:

  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • Side effect of medication
  • Mental Health Disorders
  • Stress from chronic illness
  • Use of harmful substances like drugs or alcohol
  • Financial burdens
  • Academic or work pressure

What causes anxiety for no reason?

If you’re feeling anxious and you don’t know why, it is possible that you are unable to pinpoint the trigger for your anxiety. Perhaps, there is an upcoming event that you are dreading. 

It is also possible that you may have an anxiety disorder in which case anxiety attacks can occur without a trigger. These attacks generally last longer and are very intense in nature.

What are the three main causes of anxiety?

The three main causes for anxiety can be any of the following:

  • Physical/verbal/sexual/emotional/psychological trauma
  • Stress from illnesses
  • Stress from environmental factors
  • Medication side effects
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Other Mental Health Illnesses
  • Substance use

What are the main signs of anxiety?

When you are experiencing anxiety, you tend to sweat excessively, your hands get clammy and you may have some tremors. You feel light-headed or dizzy, you may have a headache. You might also experience fear, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate and chest pains.

Citations

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323454#causes
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9536-anxiety-disorders
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961
https://www.everydayhealth.com/anxiety-pictures/7-surprising-causes-of-anxiety.aspx

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