What causes anxiety? It’s a complicated question. If you feel anxious, your anxiety could have a lot of different causes, and treatment may vary. Let’s take a deeper look at what anxiety is, what causes it, and what it means to you.
Anxiety Is Both Physical and Psychological
What is happening when you feel anxious? Often, your heart is beating fast. Your adrenaline is rising. You feel heat at the back of your neck. All this combines to send you a rising feeling of panic.
Some people don’t realize that they feel anxious. The anxiety has become so pervasive in their day-to-day life that they simply have the symptoms of anxiety. Symptoms can include feeling dizzy and light headed, losing your temper, or trying to control your situation beyond what is reasonable. Anxiety is also heavily linked to stress and can raise your blood pressure or cause you to lose sleep.
Many medications that treat anxiety actually treat the physical impact of anxiety. When your heart can’t race faster, you don’t feel as anxious. Because of this, practicing things like deep breathing exercises and “grounding” exercises (focusing on the things around you) can help.
The Physical Causes of Anxiety
As mentioned, anxiety has a strong physical component. If your heart is racing naturally, you may be more anxious. If you have too much caffeine or other stimulants (such as many ADHD medications), you may start to feel anxious. Anything that causes your blood pressure to rise or your heart to beat faster could potentially cause anxiety.
It’s also known that people may feel anxious (often called a “sense of doom”) when there is something seriously wrong with their cardiovascular system. This is the body saying that they need to get medical attention right away, but it can easily be confused with a panic attack, which can make you feel like you’re “dying” even though you’re fine.
The Psychological Causes of Anxiety
Have you ever gone to lie down and found your thoughts racing?
The psychological elements of anxiety can be significant. At one end of the spectrum, anxiety can be caused by the environment. If you’re experiencing a job lay off, if you’re being evicted, if you’re under other stressors — these things can cause your adrenaline to rise. When you start to think about those problems, you get anxious.
On the other end of the spectrum, people can feel generalized anxiety about nothing in particular. They may simply have become accustomed to being anxious. Or they may be anxious about something they shouldn’t be anxious about. This can occur when someone has a phobia, such as being anxious they might get bitten by a spider when they sleep.
Medication and Anxiety
Whenever you change medications, you should be aware that your psychological state may change. That’s true of any medication, not just medications that are psychiatric in nature.
Some medications are known to cause anxiety, and this will be listed as common side effects. Your doctor may prescribe a different medication for you or may prescribe a secondary medication to ease your anxiety.
There are also medications intended to directly counter anxiety. Some of them are fast-acting medications intended to counter the effects of things like panic attacks. Others are daily mood stabilizers intended to lower an individual’s baseline anxiety levels.
Common Types of Anxiety
There are many causes for anxiety. An issue surrounding anxiety is that people may become rightfully anxious about the negative experience of anxiety itself — a closed feedback loop. A few common types of anxiety include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder. An individual may experience anxiety about many things throughout their day, with largely no commonality between them. They may report feeling anxious at times but not be able to pinpoint why beyond a general sense of anxiety.
- Medical anxiety disorder. A physical, medical issue may start to cause an individual anxiety. Someone waiting for a cancer diagnosis could experience medical anxiety. The anxiety will be related to the medical issue and may be alleviated if that issue is resolved.
- Agoraphobia. An individual may feel intense anxiety when they think about going outside. They may hesitate to go outside altogether because of this, or they may experience moments of panic when they are forced (by themselves or by others) to go outside.
- Social anxiety. Sometimes, people have intense anxiety around human interactions. They feel more than just general nervousness or butterflies. They panic when they need to interact with other people.
- Panic disorder. A panic disorder occurs when an individual experiences moments of panic, such as panic attacks, throughout the day. People who experience these panic attacks may, in turn, start to feel anxiety around these attacks.
Everyone occasionally experiences anxiety. But if your anxiety becomes more commonplace or becomes debilitating, you should seek help from a medical professional. There are many treatment plans, from therapy to medication. If you live near Southlake, the professionals at Prime Behavioral Health can help you determine whether medication is needed to help you manage your anxiety. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.