Anxiety affects millions of people all over the world. It can be overwhelming and cause tremendous distress, making it hard to go about day-to-day life. Knowing more about anxiety and its potential causes can help you better manage symptoms.
Here we’ll explore the top eight causes of anxiety and how you can address them. By understanding these common triggers, you’ll be better equipped to manage your symptoms and lead a fuller life. So let’s dive in and look at the top eight causes of anxiety.
Stress can come from many sources, such as work, family, finances, relationships, or a traumatic event. Identifying and addressing the source of the stress is vital to reduce anxious feelings.
According to medical experts, “The body releases cortisol in response to illness and stress. The hormone helps your body cope with them more effectively. Chronic stress exposes your body to elevated cortisol levels for prolonged periods.” This can lead to greater stress and worry, depression, and agitation. It may also lead to more serious health concerns or exacerbate existing ones.
2. Hormonal Imbalance
One of the leading causes of anxiety is hormonal imbalance. More specifically, low levels of serotonin and cortisol and heightened levels of adrenaline can result in anxiety being triggered or exacerbated.
Studies have found that people with clinical anxiety experience changes in the level of hormones in their bloodstream. Additionally, these hormones can increase stress and worry when out of balance.
Fortunately, this kind of anxiety can be managed through cognitive-behavioral therapy and lifestyle shifts such as improved sleep hygiene and healthier eating habits. Certain medications prescribed by doctors may also help to restore homeostasis for an individual’s hormone levels if needed.
3. Poor Diet
If you’ve been having trouble concentrating, feeling overwhelmed easily, and not sleeping as well as you’d like lately, poor dietary choices may contribute to your anxiety symptoms. It’s no secret that what we eat can significantly impact our physical and mental health, but it’s often overlooked when managing anxiety levels.
Eating sugary snacks and processed foods can lead to sudden spikes and crashes in blood sugar, leaving us feeling exhausted and unproductive. Unstable blood sugar levels also cause the over-production of cortisol, the stress hormone causing mood swings and fatigue.
To top it off, consuming large amounts of unhealthy fats from takeout or greasy snacks can damage brain cells, leading to worry and dread for no particular reason. Research has shown that those who consume more nutrient-rich diets experience lower anxiety levels than those with poor diets.
4. Substance Abuse
Substance abuse is a significant contributor to anxiety and can even lead to an anxiety disorder developing. Many people who abuse alcohol, drugs, or other substances enable their feelings of anxiety to worsen by supporting often unhealthy coping behaviors.
When individuals use substances to cope with anxiety, they can normalize the source of stress rather than attempting to confront and solve it more healthily. This behavior can end up forming a dangerous cycle where the individual turns back to substance abuse to deal with increasing levels of distress and thus only amplifying their anxious emotions, leading to more problematic behavior in the future.
Abstinence from any substance is always the safest and healthiest option for those struggling with excess stress and anxiety.
5. Lack of Sleep
Chronic sleeplessness has been linked to increased anxiety symptoms, leaving many individuals struggling with mental health. Not getting enough sleep creates a state of hyperarousal, making it difficult to relax and manage daily stressors.
Sleep deprivation affects our body physically by not allowing our immune system to repair itself correctly and placing an extra strain on the cardiovascular system.
To prevent anxiety due to lack of sleep, it’s essential to get between 7 to 9 hours each night and ensure your bedroom is the optimal environment for sleeping. If you still struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, talk to a healthcare provider who may be able to help. Taking these simple steps could help improve your overall well-being in no time.
The chances of developing some form of anxiety disorder go up significantly if there is a family history of mental illness. Stressful life events can also contribute to a genetic predisposition to anxiety and have been linked in studies with increased occurrences of panic attacks and phobias. That’s why it’s so essential for close relatives to talk openly about their mental health.
It may seem strange, but hearing about the struggles your loved ones go through may be the thing that allows you to recognize patterns emerging in yourself and stop them before they become larger issues.
7. Financial Worries
With the increasing cost of living and significant expenses like rent, car payments, tuition, and medical bills, it’s no wonder many people feel overwhelmed with financial stress. Setting a budget and tracking your spending is an essential first step.
Consider talking to a financial adviser or using one of the many online financial planning tools. Above all else, try not to panic or let the stress pile on you. With the right amount of forethought and strategy, you can get on top of any concerns around finances and minimize your anxieties related to them.
8. Traumatic Experiences
Trauma can range from the death of a loved one and natural disasters to physical or emotional abuse or even witnessing an injury or sudden distress.
People who have experienced trauma can feel constant fear, dread, guilt, and other strong emotional reactions like flashbacks that can interfere with their daily lives. They may develop medical issues like insomnia, digestion problems, and headaches due to psychological distress.
By engaging in healthy activities such as relaxation techniques, exercise, and nutrition and talking to someone you trust about your experience, you’ll be able to cope with stressful memories. This will ultimately help reduce your level of anxiety.
Confronting Anxiety and Achieving Balance in Life
Understandably, anxiety can be a difficult thing to manage. Fortunately, plenty of viable strategies for combating and managing your anxiety are available.
Whether getting more sleep or talking to someone about your struggles, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to go through this alone. Reach out and talk to your friends, family members, or healthcare providers—you never know how much of a difference it could make in your quality of life. With the proper support, you can take steps to live healthier and happier.