Your question: Why do I have anxiety for no reason?

My reply:

Hi, I hope this message finds you well. My name is Cesar Guedez, a psychologist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Anxiety is a universal experience, which means that it is normal and necessary in everyday life. Anxiety allows us to react to an event or person that we perceive as threatening. For example, when faced with a frightening situation, anxiety is what makes you run away from potential danger, when you have a university exam or a job performance evaluation, anxiety motivates you to do your best to get good results.

The problem is when anxiety becomes too intense and recurrent, and also makes the person who suffers from it feel that it appears “for no reason”. Although you may feel that your anxiety has no cause or origin, there is always a motivation behind the anxiety, even if it is not always logical or rational.

One of the typical symptoms of anxiety is difficulty concentrating. When you are anxious, your body goes into a state of alertness and tension, which decreases your ability to pay attention and concentrate. Because of this, it can be difficult to identify the cause of your anxiety, as your mind is focused on the symptoms you are experiencing and not the cause.

However, we know that anxiety has an origin because it is related to automatic thoughts (1). These are thoughts or ideas, often negative, that appear abruptly and trigger anxious symptoms because they cause you deep concern.

Quite possibly, the cause of the unfounded anxiety you feel is your thoughts, which go unnoticed but leave a persistent negative feeling. It is an annoying experience, but it is common, and you are not to blame for feeling this way. There are strategies for coping with anxiety and not allowing it to control your life, but first, you must find the source of your anxiety.

Where does your anxiety come from?

There are many types of anxiety, therefore, multiple ways of manifesting and experiencing it. There is no single way to be “anxious” because it is a complex emotion that can occur in specific situations or in a generalized way.

Some people find it difficult to find the origin of their anxiety because the symptoms of anxiety block their perception, preventing them from being aware and attentive to what is happening in their life at the specific moment in which they feel anxious. Some things that may be causing your anxiety are:

Financial concerns

Financial worries are a common cause of anxiety and daily stress in many people. Your automatic thoughts appear to send you messages such as “you must pay the bills” or “your salary is not enough”, generating the symptoms of anxiety in an abrupt and intense way.


Interpersonal relationships can be quite stressful. Whether it is friendships, dating relationships or relationships with co-workers/students, social interaction can be exhausting, and it is common for people to have automatic thoughts related to their self-worth in the relationships they have, as well as worries about arguments and fights on a daily basis.

Everyday stress

There are many things in daily life that generate stress in people. From work and academic pressures to relationships, friendships and family. It is possible that your anxiety has its origin in accumulated stress experiences of your daily life, facing different demands that overwhelm you emotionally and generate episodes of anxiety.


A 2022 study (2) showed that daily caffeine consumption increases the probability of suffering anxiety episodes and panic attacks. This happens because caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, and keeps people constantly alert, triggering anxious episodes when faced with daily stress.

How does your anxiety work?

In general, regardless of the cause, anxiety works in a quite specific way in our brain. In the presence of something it considers threatening, our brain sends biochemical signals that trigger physical symptoms (such as tachycardia, sweating and muscle tension) and emotional symptoms (nervousness, sadness and fear). We call these reactions generated by the subjective perception of a threat anxiety.

Anxiety is closely related to thoughts, some of which are dysfunctional and generate an emotional discomfort that is difficult to control or prevent. Dysfunctional thoughts of anxiety are related to persistent fears or worries about specific or general situations.

For example, if your anxiety is related to social interaction, the dysfunctional thought may be “people here are judging me”, that generates the annoying symptoms of anxiety and makes you want to flee the place. The same happens with any other context; a thought triggers your symptoms, even if the message that thought gives you is illogical.

For this reason, the approach to anxiety should be directed to first, identify these thoughts that generate distress and discomfort, and second, to counteract them through logic.

What can you do?

To address anxiety it is necessary to know its origin, even if at this moment you may feel that it comes from nowhere.

Question your thoughts

Thoughts are not facts even though they feel like facts. One of the most overwhelming things about anxiety is the lack of control you have over the dysfunctional thoughts that trigger anxious symptoms. Therefore, you need to stop to observe and question the thoughts you have when you are going through a period of anxiety.

For example, if your cause of anxiety is academic and the thought you have is “I don’t have time to do everything and I will fail”, you should try to give a logical answer to that thought: “I can organize my agenda to have time to solve everything”, or “this allows me to learn to have a better organization in the future”.

Relaxation and breathing

Anxiety destabilizes your body with annoying symptoms that are difficult to control, but through progressive relaxation and slow breathing you can cope with your anxiety episodes and diminish the symptoms. Whether you are alone or in public, relaxation allows you to relieve these symptoms.

Close your eyes and inhale and exhale in 3-second intervals. In the meantime, repeat in your mind key phrases that generate motivation and pride. “You can deal with this situation,” “You have been through this before and have been able to get through it,” “You have the strength to deal with this problem,” to name a few examples.

In my experience…

Although it may not seem like it, there is always a source for anxiety. Many people minimize their own problems, thinking that the areas that cause anxiety in their life are “no big deal”. This is a mistake you should not make. If something is causing you anxiety, no matter how “minor” it is, it is important, and requires your attention in order to cope with it and feel better.

Anxiety can be managed through cognitive and behavioral strategies, as well as therapy with a qualified psychologist. Even if you feel overwhelmed and hopeless, there is a solution to your emotional discomfort.

Remember that you have the ability to improve your psychological state, even if during moments of anxiety or depression you feel hopeless. We can always make small changes that will pay off in the long run. The fact that you are contacting me to seek professional attention in psychological counseling is already a step, and I recognize and applaud you for that. You are already doing something and wanting to change always leads you in the right direction

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