Your question: Why do I have anxiety?

My reply:

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

Anxiety is an extremely common phenomenon worldwide. Everyone, at some point in life, will experience anxiety to a lesser or greater extent, as it is a natural emotion that in itself does not have to cause a significant problem.

However, when it becomes excessive and intense, anxiety is a problem that can negatively affect the quality of life. Many people find it difficult to even find a specific cause for their anxiety. This happens because anxiety affects the ability to concentrate and can often make people feel that they are unable to perceive the source of what is making them anxious.

There are several elements of your life that may be causing you anxiety, as adult life in general is a very stressful and exhausting process in which we are constantly juggling responsibilities.

By identifying the causes you will know where to begin to take action to decrease your anxiety symptoms.

What does it feel like to have anxiety?

Psychology(1) has studied anxiety as a complex phenomenon, which has specific characteristics that affect people in different areas. Some characteristics of anxiety are:

Cognitive symptoms: fear of losing control; fear of death; fear of “going crazy”; fear of negative evaluation by others; frightening thoughts.

Physiological symptoms: increased heart rate, palpitations; shortness of breath, rapid breathing; chest pain or pressure; choking sensation; dizziness.

Affective symptoms: nervous, tense, wound up; frightened; sadness; irritability.

Why do you experience anxiety?

Anxiety appears when your brain detects something that is threatening or stressful, and demands that your body acts accordingly. This object, scenario or person that your brain considers to be an anxiety generator, is not always a real threat, since it is more related to your subjective perception of danger and stress. Some of the most common causes of anxiety are:


Work is stressful because it involves meeting demands, and our income depends on it to meet our needs. Work can cause you anxiety when there are sudden changes, when you are assigned new tasks or when you have too many responsibilities to manage.


Education can generate anxiety at any stage or level of education. The pressure for students to pass their exams and balance their time properly to meet all the pending assessments and at the same time, leave space for their personal life, is quite stressful.

Interpersonal relationships

Whether they are family relationships, friendships or couples, socialization causes anxiety because it often involves conflict and natural arguments between human beings. Interpersonal relationships are the cause of your anxiety when you have experienced many stressful encounters, which make you feel frustrated, annoyed, frightened or sad, with important people in your life.

Identity and self-esteem

Anxiety is also related to your perception of yourself and your identity. You may experience anxiety because there are things you don’t like about your body or personality or because you feel that you are generally dissatisfied with your life in more ways than one.

What can you do to feel less anxious?

The first step is to identify the cause, which very often, is more than one. Once you have done this, it is time to take action to alleviate the problems that are causing you anxiety, whether it is by easing the pressure at work by asking for more help in your position or by better organizing your time at college to lessen the academic pressure. In general, there are several strategies you can take into account to reduce the feeling of anxiety.

Breathing and relaxation

Inhale through your nose for three seconds, exhale through your mouth for another three seconds. This while you close your eyes and feel how slowly the tension in your body decreases. You can apply this exercise for at least 10 minutes a day at different times, and just after experiencing an episode of anxiety.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This technique consists of using your senses to dissuade emotional discomfort at a given moment. It is useful when you experience a lot of physical agitation or when you feel you have a lot of unpleasant thoughts, and you find it difficult to control your emotions. Wherever you are, you will focus on identifying 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This will allow you to focus your attention on specific things during the period of anxiety, and slowly, the feeling of intense worry will diminish.

Connect with yourself

Anxiety can greatly affect your relationship with yourself and your self-esteem. Therefore, moments of solitude doing activities that you enjoy are very effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. Whether it is writing, going to museums or movie theaters, walking around monuments in your city, dedicating moments of the week to a personal activity that you enjoy doing, will bring you benefits.

In my experience…

Wondering about the source of anxiety can cause as much concern as the anxiety itself. Therefore, it is important that you reflect on what areas of your life the feeling of anxiety is most persistent, to make specific changes in those areas.

Nothing is worth feeling intense stress and anxiety that affects your quality of life, no job, career or profession should cause you permanent and suffocating discomfort. Therefore, while you cannot avoid feeling anxious, you can control how you manage your anxiety and modify aspects of your life to make the anxiety less intense.

I believe you have the ability to improve and heal these feelings of discomfort you are experiencing now. The fact that you are seeking professional help through this medium proves it to me, and I applaud you for making that decision and being on track to improve your mental health and overall, your physical health.

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