Experiencing Anxiety Without A Cause
A common complaint among people who live with anxiety is that it is all-encompassing and even paralyzing. It impacts thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It limits what people feel able to do in their lives. The worry and fear, as well as the physical symptoms of anxiety, can nearly shut us down.
When anxiety strikes without a cause, it’s confusing and maddening. Sometimes things are made worse because people around us want to know “why.” Why do we have panic attacks? Why can’t we breathe correctly? Why are we avoiding the world?
When we’re anxious but can’t explain why, either to ourselves or to others, we feel even worse. Sometimes, as we wrack our brains for a reason for our anxiety, our anxiety increases. When this happens, it’s not uncommon to shut down even further, nearly becoming paralyzed by anxiety and our struggle to explain it.
Do Genes Cause Anxiety
No one has ever identified an anxiety gene, and it is unlikely that one will ever emerge anxiety proves to be a complex condition that arises through many pathways. Some studies estimate that the heritability of generalized anxiety is no more than 30 percent. As with the transmission of depression-prone styles of thinking, families lastingly shape their children by many means. For example, the adults may display and, by the power of repeated example, silently pass on to their children skills for coping with the kinds of emotionally disruptive experiences that can trigger anxietyor they may become disorganized and unable to function by such experiences. Nevertheless, studies indicate that genes lay a foundation for anxiety primarily by contributing to the personality trait of neuroticism, characterized by volatility of the negative emotion system. It is observable in the readiness to perceive the negative aspects of challenging situations and to react to them with negative emotions.
Why Does Anxiety Cause Physical Symptoms
Whether youre dealing with anxiousness or a diagnosable anxiety disorder, it can manifest in your body in multiple ways. From head to toe, almost every system can be impacted just by nature of your body releasing a lot of stress hormones, Mona Potter, M.D., medical director at McLean Anxiety Mastery Program in Boston, tells SELF. But why does it happen?
Well, you have your fight-or-flight response to thank for your physical anxiety symptoms. Typically, its supposed to help you survive a threat by escaping or fending it off. In way-back-then cave-people days, that threat might have been something along the lines of a lion. If you have anxiety, though, your fear and worry are that threat, prompting your sympathetic nervous system, which controls involuntary processes like your breathing and heart rate, to kick into high gear. This leads your adrenal glands to release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, according to the Mayo Clinic. This domino effect is behind anxietys physical symptoms.
When a person experiences anxiety, its essentially the fight-or-flight system kicking in and saying, Danger! Neda Gould, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and associate director of the Johns Hopkins Bayview Anxiety Disorders Clinic, tells SELF.
So what are the physical symptoms of anxiety to look out for?
Read Also: What Does An Anxiety Headache Feel Like
When Do These Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety Signal A Panic Attack
Panic attacks often include physical anxiety symptoms, like sweating, trembling, and a fast heart rate. But, as we mentioned, theres one major difference: Panic attacks cause an extreme sensation of fear that strikes out of nowhere. That terror is an integral part of having a panic attack. Beyond that, panic attacks include at least four of the following symptoms, some of which you just read about as physical effects of anxiety:
- Palpitations, a pounding heart, or an accelerated heart rate
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feelings of choking
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
- Chills or heat sensations
- Derealization or depersonalization
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Fear of dying
Have Anxiety Or Panic Youre Far From Alone
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that some 40 million U.S. adults experience significant anxiety each year, with more than 28.8% of adults experiencing clinically meaningful anxiety symptoms.
Thats nearly one in three people.
Anxiety is Americas most common mental illness and can be treated effectively. However, only around one third of those with the condition seek professional help.
Anxiety disorders are hereditary, which means that if you have a relative with anxiety, you are more likely to experience it yourself.
Panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder, affects about 4.7% of U.S. adults at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Read Also: How Do Anxiety Attacks Start
Please Help Us To Help As Many People As Possible By Donating Below
If you want, you can specify which fund you would like to donate to.
The General Fund is allocated at the board’s discretion, on a monthly basis.
The Scholarship Fund helps pay for therapy for uninsured people who cannot afford therapy.
The Strategic Plan fund helps us expand our service capacity and publish new resources. The Strategic Plan is set on an annual basis by the board of directors. Our current strategic plan is always available on our about page.
How To Handle A Panic Attack
Professor Paul Salkovskis, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science at the University of Bath, says it’s important not to let your fear of panic attacks control you.
“Panic attacks always pass and the symptoms are not a sign of anything harmful happening,” he says. “Tell yourself that the symptoms you’re experiencing are caused by anxiety.”
He says don’t look for distractions. “Ride out the attack. Try to keep doing things. If possible, it’s important to try to remain in the situation until the anxiety has subsided.”
“Confront your fear. If you don’t run away from it, you’re giving yourself a chance to discover that nothing’s going to happen.”
As the anxiety begins to pass, start to focus on your surroundings and continue to do what you were doing before.
“If youre having a short, sudden panic attack, it can be helpful to have someone with you, reassuring you that it will pass and the symptoms are nothing to worry about,” says Professor Salkovskis.
Also Check: How Does An Anxiety Attack Feel Like
Make The Necessary Life
Your anxiety is much less likely to rear its ugly head in the future if you commit to making lifestyle changes that protect your body, mind and environment from damage.
Now Im going to refer you to my page on how to get over a nervous breakdown.
I wrote that article for people who are on the far end of the scale with their anxiety theyve had a complete burn-out.
They may or may not have previously suffered from excessive stress or anxiety, but the advice for you is the same as it is for them.
Be sure to also visit my article on how to treat anxiety symptoms.
Next enlist your partners support
Phobias And Irrational Fears
A phobia is an unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little to no danger. Common phobias include fear of animals , fear of flying, and fear of needles. In the case of a severe phobia, you might go to extreme lengths to avoid the object of your fear. Unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the phobia.
Don’t Miss: How To Deal With Health Anxiety
What Causes Panic Disorder
Panic disorder sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some family members have it while others dont. Researchers have found that several parts of the brain, as well as biological processes, play a key role in fear and anxiety. Some researchers think that people with panic disorder misinterpret harmless bodily sensations as threats. By learning more about how the brain and body functions in people with panic disorder, scientists may be able to create better treatments. Researchers are also looking for ways in which stress and environmental factors may play a role.
The End Of Everything: What A Panic Attack Feels Like
Only 16, Caroline, had her first panic attack a year ago. Her mother was dropping her off at her summer job at a local school when, without warning, a full-blown panic attack engulfed her. My heart started racing and my body felt so hot. I started to sweat and shake uncontrollably. My vision became distorted and my body felt limp, like a wet noodle, she says. For 20 minutes, until the panic attacked passed, Caroline refused to get out of the car. Her mother didnt know what to do.
Kirstie Craine Ruiz, 46, has lived with anxiety, panic attacks, and panic disorder for about ten years. For a long time, she had full-blown attacks 2-3 nights a week. I would usually awake to a racing heart or the feeling of my heart expanding in my chestas it might explodeFrom there, I would begin to panic and my heart would go even fasterand my body would shake so hard that it felt like I was having a convulsion. I could barely breathe and was usually pretty sure I was having a heart attack and that I was going to die. Sometimes Id go the ER and theyd hold me overnight because my heart would be going so fast and they couldnt get it to go down.
Also Check: Can I Go To Hospital For Anxiety
What Is Anxiety Exactly
Anxiety is an umbrella term for a range of uncomfortable feelings like fear, worry, and stress. It has both a colloquial and clinical meaning. Sometimes people describe garden-variety episodes of stress as anxiety, but theyre able to cope with and move on from this anxiousness without the stress being overwhelming. Other times, though, anxiety is overwhelming, which is when we get into diagnosable-mental-health-condition territory.
There are various anxiety disorders that can really disrupt a persons life. One is generalized anxiety disorder, which happens when you experience immense, disproportionate fear about any number of circumstances and events, according to the Mayo Clinic. Another is social anxiety disorder, which happens when social interactions trigger your feelings of worry. Yet another anxiety disorder youve likely heard of is panic disorder, when a person has repeated panic attacks involving uncontrollable terror. These bouts of fear are so forceful that people with panic disorder often worry about having panic attacks in the future and avoid anything they think might set one off.
Although the triggers for various anxiety disorders can differ, one major thing they have in common is the potential to cause physical symptoms of anxiety.
How To Stop An Anxiety Attack
People have this powerful idea to make the anxiety attack stop, Carbonell says, but you cant make it stop through force of will. However, if you look back at your history, you’ll see that every anxiety attack does indeed stop, even if it feels awful for a while.
Your best first step stopping an anxiety attack is to simply notice your symptoms and accept that you’re having an attack. This can be challenging if it’s one of your first anxiety attacks, but after that you’ll know more about what to expect.
Read Also: How To Ease Social Anxiety
What Causes Recurring Anxiety
Despite how annoying this particular anxiety issue can be, it isnt exactly uncommon.
Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry and nervousness that is often accompanied by physical symptoms of sweating, heart palpitations, stomach pains or nausea, said Desreen Dudley, a licensed clinical psychologist for Teladoc. Anxiety is often triggered by an upcoming event or an unknown outcome to a circumstance, in which a person worries about what to expect or anticipates a negative outcome, respectively.
Because our brains can learn anxiety, our bodies and brains often learn to react with anxiety at a certain time of day or in certain situations, Dudley said. For example, I treat many patients who experience onset anxiety in the morning when they get ready for work, especially if their job is a great deal of stress for them.
Its possible to condition ourselves to have anxiety at the same time every day, albeit subconsciously, added Suraji Wagage, a licensed clinical psychologist and director of the Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness.
We are constantly making connections between seemingly unrelated stimuli each day, which can become ingrained associations, Wagage said.
Experiencing a lack of distractions that normally keep your anxiety at bay can also be a major cause of recurring anxiety. Thats why it can crop up on the weekends or in the evenings.
What Are The Complications Of Panic Disorder
As the panic gets worse and an attacks last longer, you may find it very tough to cope with everyday life, keep a job, or function in social settings. You may fear going into places where it may be hard to escape or you feel trapped. Some people can’t leave their home for fear that help is not available or that he or she will be forced into a situation that will trigger an attack.
People with this condition may also abuse alcohol or drugs to relieve stress.
Also Check: Can Anxiety Cause High Heart Rate
Some People May Develop Panic Disorders
For many people, the feelings of panic occur only occasionally during periods of stress or illness. A person who experiences recurring panic attacks is said to have panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder. They generally have recurring and unexpected panic attacks and persistent fears of repeated attacks.
Write Down The Signs Of An Anxiety Attack
Once you know youre having an anxiety attack, try to jot down a few of the symptoms and thoughts you are experiencing. This can help you put your anxiety attack into perspective.
One of the things that worsens anxiety and can make it develop into a panic attack is looking at those symptoms in a catastrophic way, says Cheryl Carmin, PhD, director of clinical psychology training at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center and a professor at Ohio State in Columbus.
Don’t Miss: How Do You Calm Down Anxiety
Your Stomach Is All Sorts Of Messed Up
Anxiety really hits the G.I. system hard, says Dr. Potter. People with anxiety may notice general stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, or other kinds of G.I. distress, she explains.
A lot of this may boil down to what experts call the gut-brain axis, which is a communication system between your brain and the enteric nervous system that governs your digestion. This connection is why stress can so easily mess with your poop. Theres also the fact that anxiety-induced lifestyle choices like eating foods that dont agree with you or not exercising can affect your digestion as well.