What Causes Anxiety

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What Causes Anxiety

Panic attacks can come on unexpectedly, with little or no warning. So what causes anxiety in the first place? There are a wide variety of causes that can bring on anxiety or panic attacks, and in this article I will try to help you understand what these are.

Anxiety describes feelings of uneasiness, fear, worry and nervousness. Anxiety affects our whole being; our minds and bodies. It affects how we feel, how we behave and has very real physical symptoms. These can include heart palpitations, sweaty hands, shaking, and increased heart rate. It can be difficult to go out in public or communicate with others effectively.

The most common symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks include:

  • Your heart races
  • You feel your  heart pounding so severely as though it’s going to break out of your chest any second
  • You begin sweating
  • Your hands and feet go numb
  • You become confused
  • You lose total concentration
  • You start feeling extremely nervous
  • You get dizzy
  • Some people will actually “pass out” as the anxiety symptoms become overwhelming

Other physical symptoms include:

  • Tense muscles
  • Trembling
  • Churning stomach
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Backache
  • Heart palpitations
  • “Pins and needles” in arms, hands or legs

Where mild anxiety is unsettling, severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating. Alas in today’s modern fast paced society anxiety attacks are becoming far more common. Indeed, there are millions of people all over the world who have problems relating to anxiety or panic attacks. Statistically 1 in 80 people all over the world have experienced an anxiety or panic attack at some point in their lives.

My interest in anxiety and panic attacks was stimulated by a young man who became a member of my gym. At 21 years of age he had been struggling with this for over three years. Doctors had struggled to provide him with any form of long lasting solution. He had become over reliant on medication. Although the tablets he was taking certainly reduced the frequency of his attacks, they had not stopped them totally. Every few months he would disappear from the gym for about five days, the reason being, a panic attack would have happened and this totally disabled him for that time.

My initial research uncovered the following as causes of anxiety and panic attacks:

  • A lack of power or influence over one’s life.
  • Poor sleep
  • Victimisation
  • Bereavement or the loss of a relationship
  • Family difficulties
  • Boredom/Lack of direction in life.
  • A lack of time to do everything that needs to be done.
  • Poor self-image/Lack of self-worth.
  • Negative Thinking
  • Negative Outlook
  • Guilt, Blame and Shame.
  • Financial difficulties
  • Misuse of drugs/alcohol.
  • Work pressure.
  • Illness
  • Loneliness
  • Past stress and trauma

In this young man’s case none of these causes seemed to fit. Although the panic attacks he suffered from really brought him down, his greatest fear was why they were happening. It made no sense to him. But they were getting worse. Each time they struck, he was sure he was going to die. He was convinced that he was having a heart attack. Things got so bad, his fears were mounting, one consequence being he couldn’t leave the boundaries of his home town. If he did, a panic attack would immediately begin. It began to take over his life. His fears mounted, not just worried about when the next attack would happen, but also:

  • He was worried about going out socially afraid that an anxiety attack would happen in full view of his friends and complete strangers.
  • He was afraid of embarrassing himself at work.
  • He kept away from dating, scared that it would happen in front of his partner.
  • His life was becoming increasingly dominated by negative thoughts

Anxiety was taking over his life. It consumed and dominated a majority of his thoughts.

So with further research, I discovered further explanations of the potential causes of anxiety and panic attacks.

Genetics – Studies reveal that certain types of anxiety disorders are genetically linked. The risk of developing panic disorder is increased by up to 20% if there is a close family member with the condition.

Neurological causes – Breakdown of the nervous system is a major contributing factor of anxiety disorders. This is often the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain often caused by past, present or perceived occurrences.

Physical causes – Certain medical conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and migraines have been linked to panic disorder.

Drug use – Use of addictive substances such as nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and certain pharmaceutical drugs can set off anxiety disorders.

Psychological and social factors – in many who suffer from severe panic attacks lies a sense of dread. In the minds of such persons there is a pending catastrophe. This feeling is often accompanied by sweating and shivering.

In this young man’s case the latter cause was most likely the closest explanation of his situation. An accident occurred at the burial of his grandfather. From this time, the fear of death has plagued his mind.

It was no relief to him to know that everyone recovers from anxiety or panic attacks. In truth it is the psychological damage that seemingly is ruining his life. It also really has no consequence to him why he is suffering from them in the first place. The fact is he does, and he wants them gone.

I’ve introduced him to a variety of stress management techniques as you will find on this blog. I have taught him a variety of relaxation techniques, and how to look after himself better physically, such as eating healthily, getting regular exercise and keeping a regular sleep pattern.

We’ve looked at what causes anxiety and the way it can create strains to an individual on a daily basis. I’m pleased to say there are various solutions available today for dealing with anxiety and anxiety attacks. Each has its place. I’m not going to knock the different anxiety products out there because each has its merits., some have higher success rates than others. At this point, I’d like to introduce you to The Linden Method. I state categorically that I am an affiliate for this product, because I truly believe in it. I suggest you either visit their site, or ask me for more information, because I would be delighted to help you.

This young man is now weekly going to a group where through this method, he is being supported and helped. Hopefully one day soon, panic attacks will be just a thing of his past, as they can be for you if you currently struggle from them.

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About the author: Larry Lewis
My name is Larry Lewis, Health & Wellness Life Coach, Founder of Healthy Lifestyles Living, contributor to the Huffington Post, recently featured in the Sunday Mail Newspaper and somebody who went from being an owner of a chain of gyms and fitness fanatic, to a visually impaired overweight and incredibly sick person. Read about my illness to wellness story.
9 Comments
  1. Mary Hudak-Colllins November 30, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Stress and anxiety in small doses can actually motivate people to improve on their life, but when it is part of your life in larger, more frequent doses it can be crippling. I know many people that allow stress/anxiety to control their life and they are miserable. It’s very difficult to even be around them 🙁

    • LarryLewis December 2, 2011 at 5:47 pm

      Most things in moderation are ok for us Mary. Those that suffer with anxiety can at times be difficult to deal with. So as always thank you for your great comment and the idea to writre ‘How to deal with thoise around you with Anxiety’.

  2. rimly November 30, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Oh god I can recognize some of the symptoms I have. Must do something about it. Thank you Larry for making me aware.

    • LarryLewis December 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      Rimly once you see, then you can do. Good luck

  3. Pamela November 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Informative post! Thanks for sharing, Larry!

    • LarryLewis December 2, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      My pleasure Pamela, thank you for visiting

  4. Martha Orlando December 1, 2011 at 12:28 am

    So insightful! My daughter has issues with anxiety and has been in treatment for quite awhile. She is now functioning beautifully!
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post, Larry!
    Blessings!

    • LarryLewis December 2, 2011 at 5:37 pm

      Martha i am relieved to see, as you must be to write, that your daughter is now free from anxiety. When it effects our loved one, it is both terrible for them and for you, but the good news is that it can be dealt with

  5. LarryLewis December 2, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Andy thank you for commenting and sharing your brush with anxiety attacks. It will encourage others that are experiencing what you did, and show them that in time it can be a thing of the past

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