What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal reaction to real or imagined danger, but if your anxiety becomes too much, it can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. A health care provider can diagnose anxiety disorders by asking about your symptoms and conducting a physical exam, mental health tests, and lab tests to look for a medical condition that may be contributing to your anxiety.
Genetics and brain biology also play a role in anxiety. Twin studies show that 30-40 percent of anxiety disorders are hereditary. People with a family history of anxiety disorders, including those who have a first degree relative with the same disorder, are at higher risk. Other risk factors include trauma, abuse or neglect in childhood and adolescence, life events that are stressful or upsetting, poor social skills, and certain personality traits (such as shyness or nervousness) during childhood.
There are many different ways to treat anxiety, from self-help strategies and psychological treatments to medication. But remember, anxiety is a complex condition and everyone responds differently to treatment. Some people need to try a few of the above strategies before they find one that works for them.
Medications for anxiety can help to reduce some of the most common symptoms, such as feeling overwhelmed or tense. Some medications, like benzodiazepines, can provide immediate relief and help to manage your symptoms. However, they can cause side effects, and you might need to take them for a long time before you feel better.
If you’re taking a medication for anxiety, you should speak to your doctor about any side effects or risks, so you can make an informed decision on whether it’s right for you. You’ll also want to talk about when it’s time to stop taking the medication.
Non-drug treatments can often produce lasting changes and long-term relief from anxiety symptoms. These methods might include mindfulness, yoga, and other complementary health techniques. They can also include behavioural therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
The goal of these approaches is to teach you how to recognise and change thoughts, behaviours, and actions that are causing anxiety. They can also teach you how to cope with difficult situations and avoid anxiety-triggering situations in the future.
Medication for anxiety can also be helpful, but it should only be used when other treatment options have not worked. It can also be a useful addition to other self-care strategies, such as relaxation exercises and eating well.
Lifestyle choices can also be important for managing anxiety, and it’s often recommended to adopt a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and limit alcohol and caffeine intake. Other steps can include limiting your stressors, talking about your worries with someone, and learning to cope with negative emotions.
Anxiety attacks, such as those seen in panic disorder, tend to peak within 10-20 minutes of the initial fear trigger and can be physically distressing. They can cause shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, shaking, and dizziness.
The DSM-5-TR, the diagnostic manual for mental health disorders, categorises anxiety into several main types, each with its own set of symptoms and causes. These include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).