Anxiety Causes & Risk Factors

Published: February 2, 2012

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What Are the Causes?

Several cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral factors contribute to the uncomfortable feeling associated with anxiety. Each of these components, individually or together, can cause you to feel stressed, panicked, worried, or anxious.

For example, a difficult decision may trigger a cognitive and emotional response. A physical illness, drug, or medication might provoke a somatic or behavioral response that causes behavioral or emotional changes. Drug intoxication and heart conditions are two physical causes for worrying and stress.

In general, causes of anxiety are mental, physical, drug-induced, and a combination of all three. All causes can provoke mental, physical, or both types of responses.

Examples of physical causes include illnesses such as anemia, asthma, viruses, bacterial infections, abnormal heartbeat, thyroid conditions, and injuries. People might start to feel anxious and sick when their oxygen levels become low at high altitudes.

Drug-induced causes of anxiety include tobacco, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, prescription, over-the-counter medication, and illegal drug use. Depending on what you have taken, you may feel physical symptoms, mental symptoms, or both. You may feel stressed, out of control, and out of character, especially if you are experiencing hallucinations from legal or illegal drugs. Anxiety is a common side effect for people who are experiencing drug withdrawal.

Many doctors recommend against taking substances, legal or illegal, that cause excessive anxiety. Before taking any medication, you should talk to a doctor and understand whether anxiety is one of the side effects. If you experience symptoms of anxiety, it is important to remain clear-headed enough to understand that your medication is causing your anxiety. Many people start to feel hopeless, depressed, or even more anxious because they do not understand how their medication is influencing their mood.

Anxiety is a physiological response to a stressful situation or circumstance. You may be experiencing problems with family, finances, school, and your health. Many different external factors can affect your mood and cause you to worry excessively. To some extent, mood related anxiety is normal. In any case, the condition can become out of control when your anxiety is constant, irrational, uncontrollable, and overwhelming.

It is difficult to pinpoint the precise cause and effects of each interrelated symptom. Some symptoms might be causes and some causes might be symptoms. Some people who show symptoms of a heart condition might actually have a panic disorder.

Who's At Risk?

People with certain mood disorders are at a high risk of developing anxiety. Chronic or long-term anxiety can develop into patterns for diagnosable mood disorders that can cause people to start developing physical symptoms of dizziness, heart palpitations, trouble breathing, and nausea.

Panic disorders can cause people to experience extreme and unnecessary reactions. When panicking, you might find that your heart palpitates, you feel dizzy, and that you have trouble breathing. These episodes can have enduring consequences for people with heart problems or hypertension.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a condition commonly associates with an unhealthy preoccupation with small details, neatness, and order. People with obsessive compulsive disorder have irrational fears and will frequently exhibit unusual behavior in order to achieve perfection or maintain a highly controlled environment. People with obsessive compulsive disorder will repeat the same behaviors and dwell excessively over situations, creating or amplifying problems.

Phobias cause people to experience extreme fear. Many common phobias include fear of spiders, heights, airplanes, agoraphobia, and claustrophobia. People with these phobias will commonly experience panic attacks of extreme anxiety.

For some people, anxiety can spiral out of control and escalate into a chronic condition. If you find that your quality of life is suffering from your anxiety, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Sometimes, anxiety can cause you to feel depressed, suicidal, or homicidal. If you start to experience these moods or urges, you should call a medical professional immediately to gain control over your symptoms.

Generally, people who experience anxiety for no known reason for a period of weeks are at risk of developing a chronic condition. These chronic conditions can trigger dangerous physical problems, especially for people with heart problems and hypertension. The stress, frustrations, and negative mood associated with generalized anxiety disorder may interfere with your quality of life. Understand that that there is hope and help and that you do not need to suffer.

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