Wouldn’t it be great if we knew the most common causes of anxiety so we could head them off before they caused so much turmoil in our life?
Experiencing anxiety is a totally normal part of life. In fact, it can even be healthy. It is very often that nagging feeling of anxiousness in the back of our minds that motivates us to get out of a dangerous situation or complete a task before the deadline.
It can also drive us to make lifestyle changes that produce healthier outcomes for our overall wellbeing.
Too much anxiety, though, can take over our lives and create issues in the way we approach each new day.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) estimates that 40 million adults, aged 18 and older, in the U.S. struggle with anxiety disorders. This makes anxiety one of the most common mental illnesses in the country.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Though everyone experiences it from time to time, nobody is really quite sure what causes some people to live with crippling anxiety disorders while others are barely affected.
Mental health experts, however, group these issues into 6 major types of anxiety disorders that also have minor sub-groups within them.
6 Major Types of Anxiety Disorders
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder and Panic Attacks
- Separation Anxiety
- Other Specific Phobias
While the above are anxiety disorder diagnoses, it’s important for anyone battling chronic anxiety to recognize some of the factors that can cause them to become anxious.
6 Common Causes of Anxiety
As mentioned previously, the true causes of anxiety are not precisely known from a medical standpoint, although the following six common emotional experiences are known to trigger anxiety among many people.
1. Fear Can Cause Anxiety
Fear is an incredibly primal and important part of being a human. Feelings of fear can elevate our heart rate and flood our bloodstream with adrenaline, triggering a fight or flight response.
This reaction to fear can quite literally save a person’s life in a time of great risk.
However, some people can be gripped by the same physical response to what are sometimes called “irrational fears,” such as speaking in front of a large crowd, a fear of flying, or even a fear of leaving one’s own home.
While feelings of fear are often about a present situation, worry tends to cause anxiety about things that have not yet, and may not even happen.
Ruminating on negative ideas or potential outcomes can develop into a habit of worry.
Left untreated, chronic worry can render a person unable to make simple decisions, and increases stress to an unhealthy level that affects their physical wellbeing.
There’s nothing irrational or unnatural about stress. It is a biological and mental response to the problems or tasks an individual must deal with.
Too much stress over long periods is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, a decrease in the immune system function and a variety of psychological problems, like anxiety.
Learning how to manage stress is key to reducing the anxiety it may cause.
In this context, tension is all about relationships, be they in the family, between partners or even working, professional contacts.
Poor communication, and verbal or physical abuse can often lead to tension.
Anxiety is often the result of not knowing how someone in a specific relationship is going to respond to challenges. That amount of uncertainty, especially on a regular basis, is extremely difficult to cope with.
Making mistakes is a part of life and feeling the shame that comes with that is way for all of us to improve ourselves.
A healthy amount of shame can actually make us better people by pushing us to correct our errors.
However, holding onto shame or feelings of worthlessness or constantly comparing ourselves to others and feeling that we come up short is unhealthy.
These patterns of thought related to shame cause anxiety because it makes us feel that no matter what we do, we will never be good enough, smart enough, or attractive enough to succeed in daily life.
It is hard in life to always have a strong, confident grasp on who we are as individuals. Our belief systems may change in the middle of our lives, or something we once held to be true about the world or ourselves may instantly unravel.
These types of disruptions can lead to angst – questions about who we are, what we believe, and how we find meaning in life.
Anxiety can easily spring out of angst because not understanding our place in the world can be scary.
Ways to Manage or Cope With the Causes of Anxiety
If anxiety is making day-to-day responsibilities and interactions problematic, it might be helpful to seek professional treatment. The Mayo Clinic lists some common symptoms of anxiety disorders that can include:
- Feeling tense, restless or nervous
- Having an impending sense of doom or panic
- Difficulty concentrating or being unable to stop worrying
- Avoiding common situations or regular activities as a way to manage anxiety
- Feeling exhausted, weak or continually tired
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Rapid breathing, sweating or trembling in response to common situations
The first key thing to understand about anxiety issues is we’re not alone in our struggles. These issues are so common that many celebrities have anxiety disorders and choose to speak out about how they cope with them.
Next, it’s critical to know whether you have a disorder or are simply dealing with a particularly difficult time of life. Only a doctor can diagnose anxiety disorders.
There are simple methods to help reduce anxiety levels, such as:
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Avoid alcohol or drugs as coping tools
- Practice mindfulness
Anxiety disorders are treatable and many people go on to live happy, productive lives after getting the help they deserve.
In some cases, medications can reduce the symptoms of anxiety, along with counseling.
There are also other effective treatment therapy approaches that target the causes of anxiety including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
These tools allow people to recognize and manage their triggers so they can live a life free from the inner turmoil caused by anxiety.