What is Anxiety and How is It Caused?
Anxiety is a normal, inevitable, and helpful emotion. When it alerts us to danger, it can even be life-saving. Everyone feels anxiety from time to time. It shows its face before an exciting first date, a big job interview, or when you’re shooting free throws with the game on the line. Being nervous on occasion is something that makes us human. It typically passes as the cause subsides.
But what if it doesn’t pass when the cause subsides? What if it feels more free-floating and chronic? In such instances, you could be dealing with an anxiety disorder.
How is Anxiety Caused?
When talking about anxiety as a normal, hard-wired response, the causes are infinite. However, in this post, we are focusing on anxiety as a mental health condition. With that in mind, let’s examine a couple underlying causes:
Certain Personality Traits
This is sort of a trick answer. Yes, people of a certain type of personality seem to be more susceptible to anxiety. Such personality traits include:
- A need to control
- Low-key and shy
- Low self-esteem
- Easily flustered
That said, all of these traits could be the result of any number of crises and trauma in your life — particularly as a child. Thus, if this sounds familiar, you would do well to work with a therapist to discern proper cause and effect.
Whether it’s genetic or the impact of growing up in an anxious household (or a little of both), this can play a large but mostly invisible role.
A Stressful Life
In this modern digital age, this appears to be the top cause of anxiety disorders. Money is tight, societal division is widespread, and we can’t tell truth from fiction. In particular, for people of color (POC), there’s the added element of daily discrimination.
All of this is piled atop ongoing sources of stress, e.g.
- Relationship issues
- Family strife
- Physical illness
- Job problems
- Death of a loved one
Types of Anxiety Disorders
While there are many variations on these themes, there are five basic types of anxiety disorder:
- Generalized Anxiety: As the name implies, this is a pervasive feeling of worry and dread — with no obvious cause connected
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD develops after a person endures and/or witnesses a horrific event, e.g. abuse, abandonment, war, accident, natural disasters, and more.
- Social Anxiety: Do you have an overwhelming self-consciousness in normal social situations? If so, social anxiety disorder could be the root of these emotions.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Chronic and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) cause you to use repetitive behaviors (compulsions). These rituals offer only temporary relief.
- Panic Disorder: This form of anxiety manifests in sudden and frightening episodes of intense panic for no apparent reason.
What You Can Do to Recover from Anxiety
If the anxiety you feel is not debilitating, you can try addressing it with self-help techniques like:
- Maintain regular sleep patterns
- Practice mindfulness and meditation
- Make healthy eating choices
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine
- Engage in daily exercise and physical activity
- Learn as much as possible about your anxiety disorder
- Identify your triggers (keeping a journal can be very helpful)
- Spend time with social connections
Ask For Help
Quite often, an anxiety disorder requires professional guidance. Your weekly therapy sessions are the ideal setting to explore the causes and triggers of the condition. From there, you can move toward finding new approaches and solutions.
Anxiety can put a serious damper on your day-to-day life. But you do not have to struggle on your own. I invite you to contact me to schedule a consultation for anxiety therapy. Let’s get you on the path to recovery.