While there is no single known cause of anxiety disorders, there are a number of risk factors or triggers that may contribute. These differ between the different anxiety disorders, but in general, the following factors may play a role.
Certain anxiety disorders appear to have a genetic component, with some anxiety disorders running in families.
Some anxiety disorders might have a basis in how the brain processes and responds to stress and physical arousal, and how the body releases stress hormones such as adrenalin.
Patterns of thinking characterised by anticipating the worst, persistent negative self-talk, difficulty accepting uncertainty and low self-esteem are often linked to anxiety. Sensitivity to your body’s physical responses, such as increased heart rate, and misinterpreting these physical symptoms as indicating something catastrophic might also increase the risk of developing certain anxiety disorders.
Unhelpful coping strategies, such as a tendency to avoid situations that trigger the person’s anxiety, rather than facing such situations, can increase the risk for developing an anxiety disorder.
Stressful life events
Stressful events such as a marriage breakdown, work or school deadlines, and financial hardship can act as a trigger for the development of an anxiety disorder. Early life stress and trauma can also increase the likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder later in life.
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
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