Can Uncertainty Cause Anxiety
Uncertainty doesnt cause anxiety but it creates breeding grounds for anxiety, and the rise of uncertainty in much of public and private life may be one reason why anxiety has become the most prevalent mental health condition today. Worry, the cognitive component of anxiety, is activated by the mere possibility of a bad outcomeand for many modern concerns, possibility can almost never be ruled out entirely. But of course, possibility does not equal probability. Anxiety with its payload of worry can be seen as an attempt to avoid uncertaintyto dispel the discomfort it creates. The better approach, say experts, is to learn to tolerate some uncertainty and recognize that most of life is not black or white but shades of gray.
What Else Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
If you have an anxiety disorder, ask your provider:
- Whats the best treatment for me?
- Do I need medication? What type?
- How long should I take medication?
- What type of psychotherapy will work best?
- What else can I do to manage my symptoms?
- What other conditions am I at risk for?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
An anxiety disorder can make it difficult to get through your day. Anxiety disorder symptoms include feelings of nervousness, panic and fear. You may also have physical symptoms such as sweating and a rapid heartbeat. But you dont need to live like this. Several effective anxiety disorder treatments are available. Talk to your healthcare provider to figure out your diagnosis and the best treatment plan. Often, treatment combines medications and therapy. Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, together with CBT, can help you feel your best.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/17/2020.
Are There Risk Factors For Anxiety
There are multiple factors that create vulnerability to anxiety under stressful circumstances. On a purely psychological level is the ability to manage negative emotions. People lacking emotion regulation skills are at heightened risk of both anxiety and depression. Having a history of adverse life experiences during childhood, such as intense maltreatment or bouts of serious illness, also predisposes people to anxiety. It doesnt change the makeup of genes but it can permanently alter their level of activity so that that the brain is constantly on the lookout for and perceiving potential threats. Perhaps the strongest risk factor for anxiety is having the personality trait of neuroticism. It denotes the degree to which the negative affect system is readily activated. People high in trait neuroticism are dispositionally inclined to find experiences distressing and to worry.
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The Main Causes Of Anxiety
Written and verified bythe psychologist.
02 December, 2021
The main causes of anxiety are different in each person. Indeed, each individuals reality is unique and there are always specific triggers exclusive to them. For example, some might show a certain biological predisposition to anxiety. Others are subject to specific stressors that they find difficult to accept and manage.
The Greek philosopher Epictetus said that theres only one way to happiness, and thats to stop worrying about those things that are beyond our control and will. Its difficult to see how this may be possible. Because, as humans, we come into the world equipped with a mind that never ceases to imagine its own future and to look at risks as a survival mechanism.
Anxiety is a psychophysiological mechanism that allows us to identify dangers and pay attention to variables such as uncertainty and fear. Thanks to this alert system, weve advanced as a species in complex environments. We could even say that feeling anxious from time to time is a basic and necessary cost for the simple fact of being alive.
However, a problem arises when you stop having control over your anxiety and it completely alters your life and your health. Therefore, knowing what triggers it allows you to better understand this common psychopathology among the population.
The Bandaid Versus Finding The Root Cause Of Anxiety
As a neurologist with additional board certification in integrative medicine, I became acutely aware early in my medical training that the typical medications prescribed for feelings of anxiousness or anxiety were either a temporary band-aid or harmful, addictive substances. Benzodiazepines are medications that are overprescribed for anxiety and panic attacks. Examples are Valium, Ativan, Xanax, and Klonopin.
In a report released by the Center for Disease Control, death from drug overdoses continues to increase. After opioids, benzodiazepines drugs are the second most common cause of overdose-related deaths.
As I speak virtually about mental health to companies and organizations, high-functioning, intellectual success-driven professionals continue to report increased anxiety despite implementing time management and improved productivity skills.
What if we could identify the root cause of your anxiety to treat and abolish the symptoms? Getting to the root cause of anxiety and panic disorders means identifying what process in the body or brain is out of balance and then restoring the imbalances to heal the anxiety. These imbalances lead to inflammation in the brain and body. Here are commonly overlooked root causes of anxiety and panic attacks.
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Why Are Rates Of Anxiety Increasing
Anxiety in its several forms, including phobias and social anxiety, is the most common mental health disorder in the U.S. Population-based surveys indicate that about a third of adults in the U.S. will grapple with disabling anxiety at some point.
High as the number is, there is someand sometimes conflictingevidence that the prevalence of anxiety is increasing, especially among the young. Several factors are thought to be responsible for a rise in prevalence. In general, as the middle class erodes, there is growing economic uncertainty for much of the population. The high cost of health care also creates a burden of chronic worry about getting sick. In addition, a lack of coping skills, emotion regulation skills notably among them, is said to be making younger people vulnerable to a number of mental health disorders, particularly anxiety and depression.
Social media are singled out for their especially pernicious effect on young teens, because they introduce a means of constant social comparison and, through it, self-doubtand that self-doubt drives further social media use, with compounding negative effects. In addition, dating and mating practices are far less structured than in past eras, and digital forms of communication create so much ambiguity that young people are often clueless about where they stand in romantic relationships. Ambiguity typically breeds anxiety.
What Is An Anxiety Attack
An anxiety attack is a feeling of overwhelming apprehension, worry, distress, or fear. For many people, an anxiety attack builds slowly. It may worsen as a stressful event approaches.
Anxiety attacks can vary greatly, and symptoms may differ among individuals. Thats because the many symptoms of anxiety dont happen to everyone, and they can change over time.
Common symptoms of an anxiety attack include:
- feeling faint or dizzy
Researchers are not sure of the exact cause of anxiety. But, its likely a combination of factors play a role. These include genetic and environmental factors, as well as brain chemistry.
In addition, researchers believe that the areas of the brain responsible for controlling fear may be impacted.
Current research of anxiety is taking a deeper look at the parts of the brain that are involved with anxiety. Learn more about what the researchers are finding.
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Can You Name The Trigger
Close your eyes, when was the last time you felt anxious? Why were you worried at that particular moment? Was there a specific event or person that triggered your anxiety?
Sometimes, to feel back in control, we have to stop all the doing, being, and thinking and replace it with focus. When we can focus in on what caused the anxiety, we start the process of moving forward.
What about when the feeling of anxiety persists beyond the event that triggered your shift in mood? Or perhaps you have had episodes of anxiety or panic attacks that were unprovoked. Anxiety or panic that is persistent after removing the offending stimulus or attacks that are unprovoked is a sign of imbalances rooted in our minds and bodies.
On average, about 25-30% of adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder. It is five times more likely to occur in women, according to a study published by the National Institute of Mental Health in 2017.
Why We Get Stressed Out
Before diving into the root causes of stress and anxiety, its important that we briefly explore what happens inside the body in response to stressors.
Under stress, several hormones are released into the human bloodstream including the two major players called adrenaline and cortisol, which are both released from the adrenal glands. These hormones trigger a fight-or-flight response to external stimuli and suppress the normal functioning of the body, including the digestive and reproductive system.
But stress isnt always bad. Under the right circumstances, this fight-or-flight response is necessary to avoid danger or overcome difficult challenges. The problem occurs when these stress hormones are constantly released into the bloodstream, despite the absence of danger. The result: chronic stress.
In the book Why Zebras Dont Get Ulcers, author Dr. Robert Sapolsky, a world-renowned endocrinologist and professor of neurobiological sciences at Stanford University explores the damaging effects of chronic stress and reveals the major causes of it as follows:
1. Type A Personality
In the early 1960s, two cardiologists, Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman coined the term Type A to describe individuals who tend to be highly competitive, overachievers, hostile, impatient and highly aware of time-pressure.
2. Perceived low socioeconomic status
The same logic applies to economic status.
3. Lack of sleep
4. Childhood trauma
5. Perceived lack of control
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Anxiety Caused By Lifestyle Habits
Never underestimate the effect your lifestyle can have on your anxiety levels. For example, some research has shown that those that do not exercise are more prone to developing anxiety, because their body has unused energy, and because they start producing less stress-coping hormones.
Similarly, although diet does not traditionally cause significant anxiety, it can still play a role. Caffeine, for example, can exacerbate mild anxiety symptoms. Unhealthy foods can cause you to feel unhealthy, which in turn causes stress that leads to anxiety. Drug use is frequently a cause of anxiety.
This is why even with therapy and medicine, a change to lifestyle habits is often necessary.
For more information, consider the following topics to read:
- Anxiety and Television
- Anxiety and Dehydration
Stress Isnt The Problem Perception Is
The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.
Whilst there are several hidden causes of stress, there is only one underlying root cause behind it all: perception.
Perception is the lens through which we interpret and make sense of the world around us. Its the unique blend of images we hold in our minds about ourselves, others, the past, present, and future.
At its core, chronic stress and anxiety are the by-product of a negative perception of reality. That is a lens that sees the world as a dangerous place, and a mind that constantly imagines worst-case scenarios.
In this perceived world, everyone and everything is a potential threat, and constant vigilancewhich creates more stressis the only way to protect yourself from danger. Unfortunately, most of us live in this scarce, highly competitive and dangerous world. But we dont have to.
There is another world that exists, which can only be seen through a pure, neutral pair of lenses. And the few who live in this world are free from stress and its harmful effects.
Through this lens, the world is neither a dangerous or safe place, and scarcity and competition dont exist. Life reveals itself in new, surprising ways at each given moment in time. We all once lived in this world as innocent little children, before life events, culture and the media, created our current perception of reality.
When Should You See A Doctor For Anxiety
While anxiety does impact everyone from time to time, and at different points in our lives, you may need to seek medical attention if you find that your symptoms of anxiety do not go away. If these symptoms are affecting you severely and impacting your daily life, this is a sign that it is time to seek some help rather than letting the problem get worse.
Some signs that will signal that it is a good idea to see a doctor include:
- Your anxiety is affecting your work, studies, seeing friends, or other aspects of your daily life.
- You feel trapped in a loop, worrying about your anxiety symptoms or levels and becoming more anxious as a result.
- You find that youre using substances, such as alcohol or illegal drugs, to manage anxiety.
- You feel that there may be an underlying health condition or mental health problem.
- Your anxiety is causing you to have thoughts of suicide.
- You have been for treatment for anxiety before, but it has returned.
Deregulation Of Brain Chemistry
Several studies have shown that brain chemistry imbalances are a very likely cause of anxiety disorders. This research has shown that those suffering from anxiety often have issues with several neurotransmitters , including serotonin, norepinephrine and gamma-aminobutyric acid .
Its not entirely clear if the imbalance was due to poor coping strategies, or if the imbalances came first and lead to the experience of anxiety. Therapy – without any medicinal intervention – has been shown to improve chemical regulation, indicating that even though there may be a biological component, the mind can overcome them and improve the flow of neurotransmitters throughout the brain.
But in some cases, doctors prescribe medicines for these issues that are specifically designed to improve neurotransmitter regulation, and they often work at least in small doses. This indicates that neurotransmitters are something that can be changed both biologically and environmentally.
Serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA also play a role in sleep, mood, and emotional stability, each of which can affect experiences that lead to anxiety disorders.
For more information, consider the following topics to read:
- Serotonin and Anxiety
- Serotonin Deficiency and All Anxiety
- Chemical Imbalances and Anxiety
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How Does Medication Treat Anxiety Disorders
Medications cant cure an anxiety disorder. But they can improve symptoms and help you function better. Medications for anxiety disorders often include:
- Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, may decrease your anxiety, panic and worry. They work quickly, but you can build up a tolerance to them. That makes them less effective over time. Your healthcare provider may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for the short-term, then taper you off or the provider may add an antidepressant to the mix.
- Antidepressants can also help with anxiety disorders. They tweak how your brain uses certain chemicals to improve mood and reduce stress. Antidepressants may take some time to work, so be patient. If you feel like youre ready to stop taking antidepressants, talk to your provider first.
- Beta-blockers, usually used for high blood pressure, can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of anxiety disorders. They can relieve rapid heartbeat, shaking and trembling.
Your healthcare provider will work with you to find the right medication combination and dosage. Dont change the dose without consulting your provider. Theyll monitor you to make sure the medicines are working without causing negative side effects.