Anxiety Causes that Can Catch You Flat-Footed
Worries are part and parcel of life. We can feel anxious about a new project, family dinners, or even trying out a new pair of jeans. However, anxiety disorders are different. Nowadays, when people talk about anxiety, they mostly refer to a mental health condition or the group of mental illnesses.
Beyond feelings of stress, fear, or worry, anxiety can be far more complex producing symptoms that can prevent people who suffer from it from doing everyday activities as simple as leaving their houses, if not their rooms. Panic attacks can also be mild to severe, and are never a one-size fits all. Anxiety can also result in extreme physical responses such as breathlessness, debilitating headaches, and even chest pains reminiscent of a heart attack.
More and more people are coming forward with anxiety disorders, with the Anxiety and Depression Association of America pegging 40 million sufferers in the United States alone. What was once taboo has become fairly common, and that is one step closer to getting help that a person needs.
Anxiety and its disorders are complex conditions, with various causes and factors affecting how it manifests in an individual. A complex combination of reasons that vary from the physiological such as environment and genetics to psychological factors caused by an event, experiences, and emotions. Mostly referred to as anxiety triggers, these actions and situations may cause the overwhelming thoughts or reactions that can cripple the person.
By identifying these triggers, we can reduce the episodes that can cascade into experiences that can exacerbate a mental condition. Moreover, by recognizing anxiety triggers, a person can slowly change to manage their condition rather than being overwhelmed by it.
Moreover, the more people recognize triggers, whether they suffer from anxiety disorders or not, the more assistance can be given for those who have them. The world is no longer suffering silently, and it is time that these voices be heard and helped.
A medical diagnosis for a serious health condition in itself is worrisome, it can also trigger an anxiety attack.
Debilitating illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or a chronic medical condition that can further add into a serious mental health condition can be too much to take on your own. Consulting your therapist is important as well as taking a proactive approach to your health.
Talk with your doctor and other medical care professionals linked to your diagnoses. Educate yourself with the facts and information that can help you both physically and mentally cope with your diagnosis.
Exploring your feelings and fears about your conditions with your mental health carer can greatly improve your ability to manage this stressful time in your life. You can also use this opportunity to build emotional resources that can support you as well as pursuing a healthier psychological approach to your diagnosis.
Social Engagements or Parties
A common anxiety trigger that has been often trivialized. Social engagements surrounded by strangers is no party, especially if coupled with interactions with strangers. A coping mechanism is bringing a companion with you especially in cases when your presence may be required because of work or familial obligations.
However, if a party or a social event is often triggering feelings of anxiety, then that person may be suffering from a type of anxiety disorder termed as social anxiety disorder. In such cases, professional help can reduce these feelings of anxiety and can help build psychological mechanisms to help a person cope.
This is particularly helpful for those whose lifestyle and work may necessitate social events. Another reason to seek medical help is to build long-term mechanism and to avoid chemical and emotional crutches that can cause future issues and problems.
Believe it or not, certain medications that are helping you with a medical conditional can trigger an anxiety attack as a side effect.
Over-the-counter drugs and prescriptions may cause anxiety symptoms because of active ingredients found in them. These chemicals can cause feelings of unease or nervousness that can possibly cascade into physical and emotional distress.
Some medications that are known to have triggered anxiety are:
● Weight loss pills
● Birth control medications
● Cough medicine and other congestion drugs
It is best to talk with the doctor who has prescribed these medications and seek alternative prescriptions or therapy. The end result we all seek is avoiding these triggers that can result in an anxiety episode or worse, exacerbate your symptoms.
Don’t skip a meal.
A common physiological effect of hunger is a reduced sugar in the blood which can trigger more than a rumbling and grumbling stomach, it can also cause your anxiety to manifest. If you think your trembling hands and jittery feelings are simply caused by skipping lunch, those can easily cascade into an anxiety episode.
Food gives us energy and a balanced diet can go a long way in improving one’s health condition.Many mental healthcare professionals and research identify the importance of proper nutrition in improving a person’s mental health.
If you can’t keep to a three-meals-a-day routine, make time for healthy snacks that can prevent low moods but can normalize blood sugar levels. Remember, low blood sugar can trigger anxiety or feelings of agitation and moodiness.
Your Daily Coffee
We all love our shot of espresso or a lazy Sunday morning with the newspaper and a humongous cup of latte, however, that caffeine can trigger an anxiety attack. A 2010 study has linked the anxiogenic effects caffeine intake with anxiety disorders and its symptoms.
Your daily cup of joe may also be worsening your anxiety symptoms. People diagnosed with social anxiety and other panic disorders may also be more susceptible to the effects of caffeine. At the very least, your sensitivity may be heightened, at worse, your favorite java can cause a panic attack.
Switch to decaf, tea or a coffee substitute such as chai or a beverage that feed the caffeine cravings without the negative effects.
Money and Finances
Money issues are stressful. These can be compounded by mounting bills, tight budgets, and debt. Unexpected financial concerns such as car or house repairs can trigger anxiety, even saving money or dipping into your savings can increase money fears that can cause anxiety symptoms. Even tax season can cause a debilitating episode.
Pause. Seek help, a professional such as a financial advisor or someone knowledgeable with the legal and financial aspects can help you not only manage your bank balance but your mental health too.
Having a partner or a companion during these money meetings can also help you navigate through the triggers. Remember, you don’t need to go through money worries alone.
Nobody wants to be in a state of contradiction. Angry confrontations, relationship issues, disagreements of any kind, or even an argument with a stranger over parking space can worse, if not trigger anxiety.
It’s important to seek help to mitigate these conflict-ridden incidents through anger management or conflict-resolution. If you see yourself triggered by any form of disagreement or conflict, seek professional help that can give you the emotional and mental courses of action. Beyond these strategies, discuss with your mental health carer how to navigate the root causes of a conflict-triggered anxiety problem.
Frustration, pessimistic thoughts, and upsetting situations can produce a cascade of negative thoughts that can easily trigger an anxiety attack. During these times, our minds can be our worst enemies and the flurry of negative words we direct to ourselves are enough triggers.
Refocus your thoughts. Draw back from the negative thoughts you are directing to yourself. From mental scoldings to regrets to damaging language, these negative thoughts will harm you.
If you have the tendency to direct negativity towards yourself, recognizing this is the first step to your mental well-being. Talk with a therapist or a professional that can help you process these thoughts and the steps you will have to take to change them.
Speaking in Public
Speaking in public, in any form or event, is a common source of nervousness. From a class presentation to a meeting with your boss or even asking a question aloud can trigger anxiety. Many people can avoid these situations, however, if your work or interests involve these activities, then it’s time to tackle this trigger.
Usually, an expert or a therapist can help you with coping strategies so you can speak in front of people without triggering an anxiety episode, and hopefully increase your ease and comfort. Positivity from your social and professional circles and emotional reinforcement can also help you overcome your fears that come with such occasions.
Personal Anxiety Triggers
To be frank, identifying a personal anxiety trigger may take time and will probably take some professional help to identify. A traumatic event hidden in either the subconscious or even in the consciousness can take the form of a song, an innocuous memory, or a mundane daily object to trigger an anxiety attack.
People who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) can even be triggered by environmental occurrences such as a sound or even a scent. There is no end-all or be-all for personal triggers and most will need a lot of commitment from you to resolve.
If you fear going through an emotional wrangling trying to wrestle your personal demons, take comfort that you are not alone with this and that identifying a personal trigger is a step towards true healing. A long-term emotional investment for your well-being and happiness.
Stress is part of the daily grind especially those who live in cities and urbanized areas. Jam-packed trains, traffic congestions, and missed deadlines can make anyone feel anxious. However, long-term stressful situations can cause serious anxiety problems and we can see symptoms worsening as stress becomes a chronic condition. Much worse, an anxiety disorder can lead to other health problems such as elevated blood pressure and migraines.
Another reason why stressful conditions can aggravate an anxiety disorder is that beneficial routines can become disrupted or bad habits can develop. Losing sleep, drinking alcohol, taking chemical drugs or prescription medicine, and even skipping meals are just some of the ways that stress can worsen or trigger our anxiety.
Coping strategies, both physically such as exercise and emotionally such as talking with someone, can help you manage the stressful conditions in your life. Another way is to mitigate the stress by identifying the factors that cause the condition in the first place.
If the traffic jam is getting to you, finding a job nearer to your home or one that will allow a work-from-home arrangement can be a more lasting solution.
How to identify what causes your anxiety
Anxiety triggers are different for each person. Though these aforementioned causes are common among those who have anxiety and anxiety disorders, the way people react and handle them are different. What is more important is identifying what triggers your anxiety and from there, work on the root causes.
By identifying what causes your anxiety, you will be able to develop personal coping mechanism, and hopefully, work with professional mental health carer and resolve them.
How can you identify your anxiety triggers:
Honesty is still the best policy
Self-awareness is hard to realize, and you can begin by being honest about your condition. Some may take time, denying their condition or leave red herrings because of negative self-image. Some people may have a harder time because self-assessment is something we are not really trained to do on our own.
Explore your feelings and your thoughts even if you recognize something in yourself that you would prefer to avoid or deny such as trauma, anger management issues, negative character traits, or unresolved childhood fears
Write it out
Writing a journal is one of the simplest but a truly helpful way to identify an anxiety trigger. Sometimes, we may miss out an important clue but by keeping a record, a pattern can emerge or a memory can resurface. Moreover, by writing down your anxiety episodes, you will be able to notice certain details that can point you to the right direction.
Get professional help
If your anxiety is already hampering you from doing your daily routine or preventing you from doing activities that would otherwise give you happiness such as dating or travelling, then it’s time to seek professional help.
There are already specialized anxiety experts who can help you, and at the same time, a mental health professional can assist you in developing coping mechanisms.
Remember, you will need to be patient with yourself and your situation. This isn’t a grocery scenario where you can immediately find what you need on an emotional shelf. Exploring and processing your mental health needs will take time. But you are worth it.
Common anxiety symptoms
The anxiety symptoms you should watch out for in yourself or in others are:
● Accelerated heartbeat
● Physical tension, usually involves the muscles
● Physical discomfort
● A tingling sensation
● Extreme or incessant nervousness such as being on edge
● Insomnia or sleeping difficulties
● Unnecessary worrying
Frequently experiencing some or most of these common symptoms may mean that you have what we term as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). There are various types of anxiety disorders, but they differ from GAD. A person with panic disorder will exhibit a different set of symptoms such as:
● Heart palpitations or a rapid heart rate
● A feeling of constriction in the throat
● Cold sweat
Getting help for your anxiety
If you think that you have an anxiety disorder or a loved one is likely to have one or is worrying too much, then seek help. With access to media, you might think it’s easy to recognize an anxiety disorder. It’s not, even if it’s yourself. Most of the common symptoms have been occurring through time and you might think these are just habits or chronic reactions, instead of symptoms for a mental health problem.
When your worries and fears are carrying over through the months and if your feelings of dread and anxiety are preventing you from doing daily activities, this is already the red light warning to seek immediate help.
Don’t suffer needlessly even if you feel these are “simple worries.” These symptoms are telling you that it’s time to talk with your doctor.
Discuss your overall feelings and health and the symptoms you have been manifesting. Your physician will probably start off with a physical exam so physiological reasons are ruled out especially if your symptoms are physical ones.
Your doctor may prescribe medication that can help you deal with the symptoms or refer you to a mental health professional. You can also initiate and ask for a referral to a specialist such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
A mental health specialist is especially equipped not only to prescribe medication but provide long-term help to manage your anxiety and develop coping mechanisms so you can live a fuller life.
Remember, an anxiety disorder is highly-treatable and is a fairly common condition. You don’t need to suffer unnecessarily for fear of social or professional stigma. Don’t think that your worries are just nothing if you have been caught in a web of anxiety for a long period of tie. A lot of anxiety sufferers don’t seek medical help when they probably should.
Your mental health professional can help you set up a daily routine to help you cope with stress and anxiety triggers. A specialist, in conjunction with you, will develop a treatment plan that takes aspects of your life into consideration. It’s time to stop simply coping and start living a healthy and fulfilling life.
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