Anxiety: This is What Causes Each Type of the Disorder (Episode 3 of 7)
7 Causes of Anxiety
Everyone gets anxious, restless, and frazzled — but if you constantly feel worried, tense or on edge, you may have an anxiety disorder. disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time.
Doctors make a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder when patients have anxiety symptoms (such as intense and overwhelming worry and three out of six of the following: irritability, sleep disturbance, fatigue, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, and restlessness) for more than six months. GAD and the other anxiety disorders are psychiatric diagnoses that by definition are not caused by the effects of a substance or medical condition.
Examples of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
- Specific phobias
- Substance induced anxiety disorder
According to the Mayo Clinic, you can have more than one anxiety disorder. The causes of anxiety may be a medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, or thyroid disorders that need treatment. There’s a clear link between caffeine and anxiety and alcohol and anxiety. Also, certain medications may be what causes anxiety. In this case, stopping caffeine and alcohol or changing medications may reduce the anxiety. While all these things (medications, substances) can cause anxiety, this type of anxiety is distinct from a psychiatric diagnosis of an anxiety disorder.
Stress plays a big role in anxiety problems. A major life event or sudden loss of a family member or income can be what causes anxiety attacks (panic attacks), as can the small everyday stressors such as traffic jams, standing in long lines at the supermarket, and unending email or text messages.
Having a certain type of personality makes some people more disposed to anxiety than others. And like so many health conditions, anxiety appears to run in families. Genetics may play a role in who develops anxiety and who does not.
Some anxiety is normal, but if you suffer from severe anxiety or are worrying too much, it’s important to talk with a mental health specialist about your symptoms. Psychologists focus more on psychotherapy and are not medical doctors. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental health treatment. Both psychologists and psychiatrists can diagnose and treat anxiety disorders with psychotherapy, and psychiatrists can also prescribe medications. Psychologists in a few states may have the ability to prescribe, but this is not common or widespread.
Additionally, if you have anxiety with suicidal thoughts, seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
Could any of the following offenders be causing your anxiety?
Heart Problems Can Cause Anxiety
If you've ever had a panic attack, you're familiar with the way your hands get clammy, you can't catch your breath — and your heart feels like it's going to pound right out of your chest. But problems with your heart can also be the cause of anxiety. Indeed, people with generalized anxiety disorder are at greater risk than other people for a heart attack or cardiovascular disease. One-third of people experience anxiety symptoms such as heart palpitations and shortness of breath after a heart attack. These symptoms often last up to one year or more, and they're more common in women.
Anxiety Disorders Are Linked to Alcohol and Drugs
There is a strong link between alcohol and anxiety. Research shows that people with anxiety disorders are two to three times more likely to have problems with drugs and alcohol at some point in their lives than the general population. But that's not all: Abuse of alcohol or drugs can also lead to an anxiety disorder or an anxiety attack. People with social anxiety who abuse alcohol have been shown to be more likely to have severe symptoms of anxiety — as well as other emotional problems and health conditions. No matter which problem comes first, the combination of drugs, alcohol, and anxiety can become a vicious cycle.
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