Insomnia, Life Stress, and Physical Triggers of Anxious Thoughts
Feelings of anxiety often appear as physical problems, such as pain, exhaustion and inability to sleep. If you often feel nervous for no reason, struggle with uncontrollable worrying, and engage in nail-biting, hair pulling or teeth grinding, you may be flirting with an anxiety disorder.
Causes of anxiety disorders range from genetics to chronic insomnia. Once the cause of an anxiety disorder is established, the treatment may be more effective.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders: Life Issues
Childhood events. Anxiety disorders may be precipitated by overly critical parents – or highly perfectionistic ones. If children feel they never measure up, they could react with anxious behavior or even panic attacks.
Insomnia. Recent research shows that chronic insomnia is a marker of both anxiety disorders and depression. While disrupted or lack of sleep can precipitate anxiety disorders, treating chronic insomnia can alleviate feelings of anxiousness.
Stress. Anxiety disorders can be brought on by stressful life situations, such as the death of a loved one, a cross-country move, or divorce. Other life issues that may bring on anxiety disorders include legal issues, health concerns, financial problems, and conflicted relationships.
Trauma. Witnessing an assault or violent attack or a major accident can cause an anxiety disorder. Nightmares, flashbacks, distressing thoughts, and emotional numbness are symptoms of trauma (also known as post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder).
Causes of Anxiety Disorders: Physical Characteristics
Heredity. Anxiety disorders may have some genetic link. For instance, highly sensitive parents may raise more anxious children. Inherited personality types may predispose people to anxiety or extreme sensitivity.
Chemical imbalances. Anxiety disorders can be caused by imbalanced brain chemicals. Recreational drugs can change the balance of brain chemicals, leading to high levels of anxiety or even panic attacks.
Fight or flight response. Some people – called highly sensitive people by some experts – are much more sensitive to external and internal events. Car alarms, loud noises, self-imposed deadlines or expectations can all lead to anxiety disorders or panic attacks.
Medical conditions. Some physical diseases lead to anxiety disorders, such as hypoglycemia (blood sugar level is too low). Anxious people may have strong reactions to caffeine, amphetamines, aspartame and other stimulants.
Factors that not only cause anxiety disorders but maintain them include unexpressed feelings, mistaken beliefs, lack of self-care, anxious self-talk, and a high-stress lifestyle.