What Causes Anxiety?

Updated: Feb 20, 2021

Are you feeling anxious but aren’t quite sure why? Perhaps you’re even anxious about feeling anxious. Dealing with anxiety is incredibly overwhelming, especially because anxious minds don’t always understand why they’re feeling the way they do.


Like many mental health challenges, there are several different factors that can contribute to anxiety. Physical health, life circumstances, past events, the people you spend your time with, and how you spend your time all have impacts on the way that you think, feel, and behave.

What triggers anxiety?

Anxiety happens when your brain thinks you are in danger. Have you ever jumped when someone walked up behind you unexpectedly or gotten scared when you heard a strange noise late at night? Your brain sees these things as potential threats and sets off your internal alarm system. This puts your your body into survival mode. When there is real danger present, this is incredibly helpful.


However, there are many situations where our minds perceive danger in situations where the risk is actually low. You may have become anxious when giving a presentation or responding to a text from someone you're attracted to. While these situations aren’t life threatening, your fast heartbeat and sweaty hands might make you think otherwise!


When you’re feeling overly anxious about a situation, it might be the only thing you can focus on, and you probably cannot wait until it’s over. This has to do with the “fight-or-flight” response. The part of your brain called the amygdala becomes more active, putting your body into survival mode. Your breathing and heart rate speed up as adrenaline is pumping. You may even notice that your stomach and vision are also impacted.


How do I know if my anxiety is getting out of hand?

Experiencing some anxiety is a natural part of life. It can help protect you from danger and motivate you to plan for things. However, when anxiety becomes too high, it can get in the way of your success. For instance, if you are having ongoing trouble relaxing and/or are regularly avoiding daily activities out of fear, consulting with a counselor experienced in treating anxiety might be a great step to take.


How can I reduce my anxiety?

Thankfully, there are several effective ways to manage anxiety! CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is a therapeutic technique that helps clients examine how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are impacting each other. There are many different CBT techniques that can help you effectively reduce anxiety.


Mindfulness is another great tool for helping you focus on the present moment. It can help reduce patterns of feeling overwhelmed with worries about the future and “what if” scenarios. Anxiety is treatable, and by making specific goals and a plan for tackling it, you can become more calm and focused.


Reducing anxiety is a process that takes strategy, time, and persistence. Just like it takes time to see results at the gym, it can take time to see lasting results with our minds. Everyone is unique, so finding the best strategies and techniques for you is important. Please reach out if you would like some individualized support for anxiety.


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