What Causes Sudden Onset Of Anxiety
A sudden onset of anxiety can be triggered by a plethora of thingsfrom a major event, like a death in the family, to everyday stressors, such as work or budget worriesbut sometimes it can be caused by seemingly nothing at all or issues we arent aware of.
Our brains are designed to monitor for danger and let us know when these signs appear, says Karin Kassab, MA, psychologist and CEO of Clarity Counseling Center. Although it can feel like it at times, anxiety is not your enemy. Its your brain trying to keep you safe. Think about your anxiety as a security system thats just a little too sensitive.
Abrupt feelings of nervousness and apprehension are often caused by a specific anxiety trigger. It could be a conversation or a place or a smell that triggers anxiety, says Silvi Saxena, MSW, LSW, a licensed therapist at Choosing Therapy. It can be a result of focusing thoughts on something that is stressful and worrisome, something that doesnt have a solution or worrying about worst case scenarios. Major life events can trigger a series of anxiety attacks and it can become easy to get into a pattern of negative thinking, which worsens anxiety. As a result, its crucial to try to understand your anxiety triggers, in order to find ways to manage it.
Ways To Enlist The Help Of Your Spouse Or Partner
Does Personality Play A Role In Anxiety
There is a type of personality consistently associated with anxietythose who exhibit the trait of neuroticism. One of the so-called Big Five personality traits, it describes a broad tendency to respond to experience with negative emotions and to be roiled by them. In study after study, neuroticism predicts susceptibility to both anxiety and depression and, to a lesser degree, all other mental disorders. Scientists believe that neuroticism reflects emotional reactivity that is especially attuned to threat. Some facets of neuroticism perfectionism stands outare virtually free tickets to anxiety. Perfectionists may seem like theyre on a path to success but in fact they are driven by a desire to avoid failure as a result, much of their mental life is devoted to worrying about mistakes they could possibly make and imagining dire consequences of those mistakes..
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Is It In Your Genes
If anxiety appears to run in the family, it may be that your genetic inheritance that biological lottery has set you up for some vulnerability to anxiety.
That does not necessarily mean your genes are the cause of your problem. The story is far more complicated than that.
Not every timid, shy and anxious child develops into a fearful adult with anxiety problems.
Lifestyle factors, parenting and other experiences, as well as your manner of dealing with stressors , determine the ultimate outcome.
Your personal development, and here the development of anxiety, depends on
- how safe your environment was when you grew up
- to what extent essential emotional needs were met
- whether or not you had parents who were overprotective
- whether or not you had a parent who was always anxious
- whether or not you were encouraged to become more resilient and deal with, rather than avoid, feared situations at home, with friends and at school
These experiences would have shaped your own reactions and general attitude towards stressful situations and life-events.
But ultimately, yes, your genes could indeed be the cause of your anxiety.
So, what can you do about it?
Youve always been a nervous type chronically anxious?
Regardless of whether that is through a genetic predisposition or any of the above, you just need to follow all the steps below to permanently get over that sense of panic.
Unless you need treatment for trauma, decide to focus only on the here and now from now on.
You Have Higher Amounts Of Stress Hormones In The Morning
“There’s actually a physiological reason why some people experience anxiety in the mornings,” Dr. Saltz says. “For one, it’s when cortisol levels are naturally at their highest.” She explains that cortisol is often called “the stress hormone” because high levels of it can lead to feeling stressed.
“There’s nothing you can do from stopping cortisol from raising slightly in the morningthat’s biologically what happensbut there are steps you can take to lower your cortisol overall so that it doesn’t peak as high,” Dr. Saltz says.
2. Coffee can lead to feeling anxious.
What you eat or drink in the morning can also lead to increased feelings of anxiety, according to Dr. Saltz. “The first thing many people do in the morning is drink a cup of coffee. Caffeine, particularly for people who already have anxiety, can definitely worsen the symptoms of that.” She explains that caffeine can lead to feeling jittery and having an increased heart rate. “Then our brain tries to come up with a reason to explain why we feel that way: I’m feeling jittery. I must be worried about X.” Dr. Saltz says this happens so quickly that it can feel like we have the thought first and then the physiological reaction, but it’s actually the other way around.
3. Sugar is another culprit.
4. Morning anxiety could also be a sign of having general anxiety disorder.
5. You’re chronically stressed.
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Behavioral Symptoms Of Severe Anxiety
Behavioral symptoms of severe anxiety often take the form of avoidance. Because severe anxiety symptoms are so terrifying, people will do almost anything to avoid feeling them. This might include:
- Not going to specific places
- Not seeing certain people
- Not having specific experiences
These severe symptoms of anxiety can even escalate until the person refuses to leave the house or talk to most people.
Other severe behavioral symptoms of anxiety include those seen in obsessive-compulsive disorder . People with OCD become obsessed with ideas such as:2
Once an obsession takes hold, the person feels an overwhelming urge to perform an action, a compulsion, also known as a ritual. Examples of severe compulsions include:
- Washing of hands until the skin is raw
- Picking of skin and hair around the face until there are open wounds
- Being unable to leave the house due to repeated checking of things related to safety such as turning off the stove
Anxiety: What It Is What To Do
- By Francesca Coltrera, Editor, Harvard Health Blog
While anxiety symptoms vary widely, odds are good that at some point youve experienced occasional physical and emotional distress signals such as panicky breathing, your heart pounding in your chest, trouble sleeping, feelings of dread, or even loops of worry. Thats normal.
Experiencing anxiety is normal, says Dr. Gene Beresin, executive director of the Clay Center for Healthy Young Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital. A certain amount of anxiety can even be helpful. The problem is that sometimes the systems underlying our anxiety responses get dysregulated, so that we overreact or react to the wrong situations.
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Stress Hormones And Generalized Anxiety
If you are dealing with excessive anxiety in the morning, theres a good chance you may also have generalized anxiety or something researchers call The Cortisol Awakening Response . The stress hormone, cortisol, is released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress. Researchers have found that cortisol is highest in the first hour of waking for people with an increased level of anxiety. This helps explain why you may experience an increase in anxiety in the morning.
When you wake up, the body is already in fight or flight at the memory and thought of another anxiety-filled day ahead. Now cue negative thinking before the day has even begun, creating a repeating cycle of early morning dread. Not to mention, the latter part of the night and early part of the morning generally sees a natural increase in both Cortisol and blood pressure as the body prepares to start another day.
Why Does Anxiety So Often Occur With Depression
Depression and anxiety share much in commonthey both derive from overresponsiveness of the negative affect system, the distinguishing feature of the personality trait of neuroticism. People with the trait of neuroticism tend to react to experience most readily and most strongly with negative emotions, such as irritability, anger, and sadness. Many of the same brain regions malfunction in both conditions, most notably the amygdala and prefrontal cortex . But there are important differences. Anxiety is an alarm intended to energize people to avoid possible future danger they sense depression shuts people down when they feel overwhelmed, disinclining them to ongoing activity and focusing their attention on losses and other negative experiences in the past. Stress can trigger both responses. And anxiety itself can lead to depression. In fact, nearly 70 percent of people who suffer from depression also have anxiety, and 50 percent of those with anxiety have clinical depression.
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Six Simple Habits That Defeat Anxiety
Deanne Repich, Director: National Institute of Anxiety and Stress
If youre like most anxiety sufferers, you probably spend much of your day wrestling with physical symptoms, feeling afraid, or even hiding your anxious feelings from others. When stressors arise your racing heart, trembling, dizziness, obsessive thoughts and other symptoms take over.
Anxiety can keep you feeling trapped and once you feel this way, its difficult to know how or if you can ever feel better.
If you suffer from anxiety, take heart. Studies show that simple anxiety-reducing habits can go a long way toward improving how you feel.
Here are six simple habits you can use to defeat anxiety and take back control of your life.
How Is Gad Treated
First, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor should do an exam and ask you about your health history to make sure that an unrelated physical problem is not causing your symptoms. Your doctor may refer to you a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.
GAD is generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment for you.
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Getting Help For Anxiety
If you think your worry has gotten out of hand, an expert opinion can help to further clarify this. Meeting with a cliniciana counselor, social worker, psychologist, or psychiatristcan help you to determine if your anxiety issue can be classified as a disorder, and, if so, which one.
Clinicians will use diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorders to determine whether or not your anxiety is excessive. This typically involves an assessment of how persistent your anxiety is, what types of symptoms you experience, how long they last, and how intrusive they are on your ability to get through life on a day-to-day basis.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide to help you ask the right questions at your next doctor’s appointment.
Treatment For Generalized Anxiety Disorder
If youve given self-help a fair shot, but still cant seem to shake your worries and fears, it may be time to see a mental health professional. But remember that professional treatment doesnt replace self-help. In order to control your GAD symptoms, youll still want to make lifestyle changes and look at the ways you think about worrying
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one type of therapy that is particularly helpful in the treatment of GAD. CBT examines distortions in our ways of looking at the world and ourselves. Your therapist will help you identify automatic negative thoughts that contribute to your anxiety. For example, if you catastrophizealways imagining the worst possible outcome in any given situationyou might challenge this tendency through questions such as, What is the likelihood that this worst-case scenario will actually come true? and What are some positive outcomes that are more likely to happen?.
The five components of CBT for anxiety are:
Education. CBT involves learning about generalized anxiety disorder. It also teaches you how to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful worry. An increased understanding of your anxiety encourages a more accepting and proactive response to it.
Monitoring. You learn to monitor your anxiety, including what triggers it, the specific things you worry about, and the severity and length of a particular episode. This helps you get perspective, as well as track your progress.
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There May Be More Than Anxiety At Play
Anxiety disorders often occur alongside other mental health issues. Depression and anxiety, for instance, frequently go hand in hand. While not everyone who deals with anxiety is also suffering from depression or another mental health disorder, it’s important to consider that someone who’s dealing with anxiety might have other things going on, even if they don’t divulge everything to you all at once.
“Mental health issues are often co-occurring. A person may have one mental health challenge that they feel more open to talking about, and another that they keep private. Do not assume that you know the full scope of a person’s mental health challenges just because they have told you about one part of it,” says McCullough. It’s also important to note that just because someone has disclosed something to you in the past, it doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be that way. “Mental health is also constantly shifting, so over time, the landscape of a person’s mental health challenges may change,” she explains.
While everyone with anxiety is different and no list is one-size-fits-all, these are good starting points when it comes to relating to those in your life who have an anxiety disorder. Ask them about their experiences, how you can help them, and what they wish people knew about their anxiety. You may be surprised by what you find.
More on mental health:
How To Ease Anxiety: 5 Ways To Feel Calmer Right Now
When we’re anxious, our breath becomes rapid and shallow. Deep belly breathing helps decrease anxiety by stimulating the bodyâs relaxation response, lowering our heart rate and blood pressure. Itâs a powerful technique that works because we canât breathe deeply and be anxious at the same time. There are many variations to try, including this simple exercise:
Inhale deeply for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 4. Exhale for a count of 4. Repeat several times.
Exercise is one of the best anxiety remedies, immediately and long term. Going for a walk creates a diversion from worries and releases muscle tension. Grab your headphones or earbuds on the way out:studies show that listening to music brings its own calming effects.
Long term, regular exercise triggers the release of feel-good neurochemicals in the brain, building up resilience against stormy emotions. It boosts confidence and mood, and we donât need to run a marathon to feel the benefits. Washing the car, hiking, gardening, a pick-up game â anything that gets us moving counts. Research shows that 30 minutes, 3 to 5 days a week can help to significantly improve anxiety symptoms, but even 10 minutes can make a difference.
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