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What causes anxiety?

As everyone experiences anxiety in a different way, the causes are likely to vary from person to person. Often, anxiety can be brought on by a range of causes building up on top of one another.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that can trigger an anxiety disorder.

Life events

This can be traumatic things that happened in the past, or a set of circumstances you’re facing right now. These events can make you feel very stressed and thinking about them can trigger a panic attack.

Potential triggers include:

  • Bullying, either at work or at school
  • Physical, psychological or sexual abuse
  • Loneliness or isolation
  • Bereavement
  • A breakup or divorce
  • Being the victim of a crime
  • Long-term health issues, such as arthritis or cancer
  • Substance abuse

Issues at work

A significant amount of your time is spent at work. If you’re not happy in your job, it can have a big impact on your mental health and become a key cause of worry and anxiety.

Your anxiety could be triggered by work-related issues such as:

  • Long hours
  • The pressure to perform and hit deadlines
  • Tiredness as a result of this pressure
  • A poor performance review
  • The threat of redundancy, or being fired
  • Long-term unemployment
  • Poor relationship with work colleagues

Social factors

Sometimes anxiety can occur when we don’t feel our lives are where we expect or want them to be. In a social media age, it’s easy to compare yourself unfavourably with your friends, but it’s important to remember that someone’s online profile rarely tells the whole story!

Anxiety can occur at different points throughout your life, for various reasons. These include:

  • Pressure to meet life goals by a certain deadline
  • Compare your life with the one your friends present on social media
  • Retirement and the loss of a regular routine

Money problems

This is something that many people will keep a secret from their loved ones, no matter how anxious they feel. Of course, this only adds to the problem later on.

Common money worries include:

  • Debt
  • Large bills
  • The prospect of losing your home

Biological factors

Sometimes, anxiety can be brought on by how your brain works, or because of genetic factors. If you can’t pinpoint an obvious cause for your anxiety among your personal problems, you might want to consider the following possible causes:

  • Overactivity in the areas of your brain that control emotional responses and behaviours
  • Imbalance of mood-boosting chemicals such as serotonin and adrenaline
  • Your family history - have any close relatives suffered from anxiety disorders?
  • Hormonal changes in the body, e.g. puberty, an overactive thyroid, menopause or pregnancy
  • Some medications can trigger anxiety or make existing anxiety worse. This is possible even with medication designed to treat anxiety or depression.

Anxiety about anxiety

In addition, the fear of having an anxiety attack can cause your anxiety to get worse. As you might expect, this can create something of a vicious cycle. That’s why it’s so important to see a doctor and get treatment for your anxiety symptoms.

Learn to meditate and live mindfully to improve your Anxiety

“I recommend mindfulness in a range of situations, both proactively for maintaining well being and good mental health, and reactively for tackling problems.”

Dr. Katie Amelia, GP specialist in mental health & well being.

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