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Anxiety Triggers

Learning how to identify your anxiety triggers and implementing healthy coping strategies can help you to manage anxiety disorders and prevent panic attacks.

According to ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the United States. Almost 40 million adults suffer from the following forms of anxiety:

  • GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) affects 3.1% of the population.
  • PD (panic disorder) affects 2.7% of the population.
  • Social anxiety disorder affects 7.1% of the population.
  • Specific phobias affect 9.1% of the population.
  • OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) affects 1.2% of the population.
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) affects 3.6% of the population.

Anxiety can be disruptive to daily functioning, especially when it causes panic attacks. If you have any form of anxiety disorder, isolating your personal triggers for anxiety and developing positive coping mechanisms is central to successfully managing this demanding condition.

What Triggers Anxiety?

If you find yourself experiencing episodes of anxiety or developing an anxiety disorder, it is vital to identify what triggers your anxiety.

While anxiety triggers vary from person to person, there are nevertheless many common factors that trigger a variety of episodes of anxiety.

Here are some simple ways to start exploring what triggers your episodes of anxiety:

  • Journal your feelings in situations that provoke anxiety. Note down any coping strategies that proved effective in those situations.
  • Isolate any major stressors in your life and examine how they impact your anxiety levels.
  • Reflect on any past traumas or negative experiences that could be triggering anxiety attacks.
  • Speak with a loved one if you need more insight on scenarios that make you anxious.
  • Minimize consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and foods high in sugar. All of these substances raise cortisol levels. This is liable to inflame anxiety.
  • Consider engaging with therapy to address your anxiety disorder.

It may take some time and effort to work out what triggers your episodes of anxiety. It may also require professional intervention.

Fortunately, once you identify your personal anxiety triggers, coping with anxiety becomes relatively straightforward.

What are triggers for anxiety, then?

Common Triggers for Anxiety

  1. Caffeine
  2. Social gatherings
  3. Financial difficulties
  4. OTC and prescription medications
  5. Underling physical health conditions
  6. Stress
  7. Bereavement
  8. Flawed and negative thinking
  9. Being bullied
  10. Pregnancy and parenthood

1) Caffeine

Caffeine can trigger anxiety or inflame existing anxiety.

This study shows that people with social anxiety disorder and panic disorder are most susceptible to caffeine’s anxiety-inducing effects.

Drink non caffeinated whenever possible if you want to reduce episodes of anxiety.

2) Social gatherings

Some people find social gatherings trigger anxiety. Common examples include:

  • Meeting a group of strangers
  • Giving a speech
  • Meeting people for the first time
  • Attending an interview
  • Giving a performance

While some anxiety in these scenarios is healthy, anxiety can become so intense it prevents you from participating in activities you would enjoy. Address the underlying issue rather than avoiding those situations.

When social anxiety becomes so pronounced that you feel excessively self-conscious or start isolating yourself and becoming socially withdrawn, these could be signs of social anxiety disorder.

3) Financial difficulties

Financial stress can adversely affect your mental health, according to APA (American Psychological Association).

Job loss, debt, and income instability are all known anxiety triggers.

If you are experiencing anxiety induced by financial stress, consider reaching out to a trusted loved one or mental health professional.

4) OTC and prescription medications

Some over-the-counter and prescription medications can trigger episodes of anxiety. Examples include:

  • Weight loss medications
  • Cough medicines
  • Congestion medicines
  • Birth control pills

If you experience anxiety while taking any kind of medication, consult your physician and look for an alternative medication.

5) Underling physical health conditions

A health diagnosis such as chronic illness or cancer can trigger anxiety or inflame anxiety.

The most effective strategy to manage anxiety in this situation is to remain engaged and proactive in treatment of the physical condition while also considering therapy to help you manage your emotions related to your health condition.

6) Stress

Chronic stress can trigger long-term anxiety and it can also worsen the symptoms of anxiety in those with anxiety disorders.

Often, stress causes people to engage in harmful behaviors, such as:

  • Drinking too much alcohol.
  • Not getting enough sleep.
  • Skipping meals.
  • Eating too much junk food.
  • Abusing addictive substances.

All of the above factors can also trigger and worsen anxiety.

Instead, work with a counselor or therapist to develop healthy coping strategies for times when anxiety becomes overwhelming.

7) Bereavement

Although bereavement is typically associated with feelings of depression and grief, loss can also trigger severe anxiety.

If you become anxious about coping after losing a loved one, speak with your healthcare provider. Your doctor may refer you to a bereavement counselor or they may suggest therapy to address anxiety issues.

8) Flawed and negative thinking

If you frequently think about yourself in negative terms, try using more positive terms when you are upset or frustrated. Working with a mental health specialist will help you to reframe the way you think about yourself to minimize occurrences of anxiety.

9) Being bullied

Bullying, whether at school, at home, or in the workplace, is a powerful anxiety trigger. Over time, this can lead to a generalized fear of social situations.

If you experience any form of bullying, reach out for help immediately.

10) Pregnancy and parenthood

While becoming a parent is a thrilling prospect, it can also be a trigger for anxiety.

For pregnant women experiencing high levels of anxiety, talk therapy is often an effective treatment.

An image of someone with anxiety triggers

How to Manage Anxiety Triggers

The most common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Fear
  • Uncontrollable worry
  • Edginess
  • Irritability
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Muscle tension
  • Problems with focus
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tingling
  • Restlessness
  • Physical discomfort

If you find the above symptoms do not subside after six months, you might have GAD (generalized anxiety disorder).

The symptoms of other anxiety disorders differ. Panic disorder, for example, is characterized by the following:

  • Shaking
  • Trembling
  • Palpitations
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Constricted throat

Coping techniques can help you to mitigate anxiety regardless of what triggers anxiety attacks or other episodes of anxiety.

Here are some strategies you can implement immediately:

  • Stick to a daily routine to minimize uncertainty.
  • Cut down on caffeine intake.
  • Practice breathwork – deep breathing exercises.
  • Drink as little alcohol as possible.
  • Schedule time to address your worries rather than allowing anxiety to pervade the whole day.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day to regulate stress.
  • Focus on quality and quantity of sleep.
  • Practice meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques.
  • Volunteer if you have spare time.
  • Accept a certain loss of control.

Avoiding known anxiety triggers can be an effective strategy, for instance:

  • Moderating caffeine intake.
  • Eliminating alcohol use.
  • Ending a destructive relationship.
  • Avoiding crowded spaces.

In other situations, confronting an anxiety trigger – by joining a public speaking group, for example – can help you to deal with your anxiety in a safe and controlled environment.

You may also find anxiety support groups are beneficial.

For many people dealing with debilitating episodes of anxiety and for those who develop an anxiety disorder, getting professional treatment is the most effective route to recovery.

First, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Expect to:

  • Discuss your symptoms of anxiety.
  • Undergo a physical exam.
  • Relate your health history.

After ruling out any physical health conditions that could be triggering anxiety, your doctor may decide to prescribe anti-anxiety medications. Often, your doctor will refer you to a mental health specialist – a psychiatrist or a psychologist – so you can engage with therapy to supplement MAT (medication-assisted treatment).

We can help you here at Los Angeles Therapy Network.

Anxiety Treatment at Los Angeles Therapy Network

Anxiety disorders affect around one-third of the U.S. population at some stage, but anxiety disorders almost always respond favorably to treatment in the form of psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of these approaches.

To get the right treatment for anxiety, you must first get an accurate diagnosis.

Anxiety medications do not cure anxiety, but several medications can help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Examples include:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antidepressants
  • Beta blockers

CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) or DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) are both proven effective for the treatment of anxiety disorders. Access these therapies and more through LATN.

Don’t let anxiety disrupt your life when Los Angeles Therapy Network can connect you with the right therapist to help unpack your anxiety disorder. Take action today by calling 833.604.1287.

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