13 Things That Can Cause Anxiety

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Anxiety is more than just occasional worry or fear. It’s a persistent dread or apprehension that can interfere with daily activities. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions worldwide, affecting millions of people. But what exactly triggers these anxious feelings? Let’s dive into 13 things that can cause anxiety.

Causes of Anxiety
Causes of Anxiety

Genetic Factors

Family History

If anxiety disorders run in your family, there’s a higher chance you might experience anxiety, too. Genetics play a significant role, meaning the tendency to develop anxiety can be inherited.

Inherited Traits

Certain personality traits, like shyness or behavioral inhibition, can be passed down through generations, making individuals more susceptible to anxiety disorders.

Environmental Stressors

Work Stress

Deadlines and Workload

Facing constant deadlines and an overwhelming workload can lead to chronic stress, a significant contributor to anxiety. The pressure to perform and meet expectations can feel like a heavy burden.

Job Insecurity

Not knowing if you’ll still have a job tomorrow can be incredibly stressful. Job insecurity can create a persistent state of anxiety, affecting both mental and physical health.

Financial Issues

Money problems are a common source of anxiety. Struggling to pay bills, managing debt, or worrying about future financial stability can cause significant stress.

Traumatic Events

Childhood Trauma

Experiencing trauma during childhood, such as abuse, neglect, or witnessing violence, can have long-lasting effects. These traumatic events can alter brain function and increase the risk of developing anxiety disorders later in life.

Accidents and Natural Disasters

Surviving an accident or a natural disaster can leave lasting emotional scars. The fear and helplessness felt during such events can trigger anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Medical Conditions

Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness, such as diabetes or heart disease, can be a constant source of stress. The ongoing management of the condition and the fear of complications can contribute to anxiety.

Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal changes, particularly those related to thyroid issues or reproductive hormones, can affect mood and trigger anxiety. Conditions like hyperthyroidism or menopause are common culprits.

Substance Abuse


While a drink or two might seem relaxing, alcohol can increase anxiety. It affects brain chemistry and can lead to dependence, creating a vicious cycle of anxiety and alcohol use.


Illicit drugs and even some prescription medications can cause or exacerbate anxiety. Stimulants, hallucinogens, and withdrawal from substances are particularly notorious for triggering anxiety symptoms.

Personality Traits


Striving for perfection can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety. Perfectionists often set unattainable standards for themselves, leading to a constant fear of failure.

Low Self-Esteem

Having a negative self-image or low self-esteem can make individuals more vulnerable to anxiety. The constant self-doubt and fear of judgment can be paralyzing.

Social Factors

Social Isolation

Feeling isolated or lonely can be a significant source of anxiety. Humans are social creatures, and a lack of social interaction can lead to feelings of despair and fear.

Peer Pressure

The pressure to fit in and meet peers’ expectations can cause significant stress. This is particularly true for teenagers and young adults who are still developing their sense of identity.

Life Transitions

Moving to a New City

Relocating to a new city can be exciting, but it also brings a lot of uncertainty and change. Adjusting to a new environment, finding new social circles, and navigating a different city can be anxiety-inducing.

Starting a New Job or School

New beginnings often come with a mix of excitement and anxiety. The unknowns associated with a new job or school, such as making new friends or meeting new expectations, can be stressful.

Technology and Social Media

Screen Time

Excessive screen time, particularly on social media, can contribute to anxiety. The constant bombardment of information and the pressure to stay connected can be overwhelming.

Online Comparison

Comparing oneself to others online can lead to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. Social media often presents a curated, idealized reality, making it easy to feel like you don’t measure up.

Poor Diet and Lack of Exercise

Nutritional Deficiencies

A poor diet lacking essential nutrients can affect brain function and mood, leading to anxiety. For example, deficiencies in vitamins like B12 and D are linked to increased anxiety.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Lack of physical activity can lead to anxiety. Exercise is known to boost mood and reduce stress, so that a sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate anxious feelings.

Lack of Sleep


Chronic insomnia or trouble sleeping can lead to anxiety. The brain needs adequate rest to function properly, and lack of sleep can create a cycle of stress and sleeplessness.

Irregular Sleep Patterns

Inconsistent sleep patterns can disrupt the body’s natural rhythm, leading to anxiety. Regular, restful sleep is crucial for maintaining mental health.

Negative Thought Patterns


Always expecting the worst can lead to chronic anxiety. Catastrophizing involves imagining the worst possible outcomes and can make everyday situations feel overwhelming.


Constantly ruminating on problems and potential issues can create a state of perpetual anxiety. Overthinking often involves focusing on “what if” scenarios that may never happen.

Overthinking often involves focusing on “what if” scenarios that may never happen.


Anxiety can stem from a variety of sources, from genetic factors to lifestyle choices. Recognizing these triggers is the first step toward managing stress effectively. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, it’s essential to seek help. Professional support and lifestyle changes can make a significant difference in reducing stress and improving overall well-being.

What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?


What are the common symptoms of anxiety?

Common symptoms of anxiety include excessive worry, restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances.

Can lifestyle changes reduce anxiety?

Yes, lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, sufficient sleep, and stress management techniques can significantly reduce anxiety.

How can one support a loved one with anxiety?

You can support a loved one with anxiety by being patient, listening without judgment, encouraging them to seek professional help, and offering practical support.

Are there effective treatments for anxiety?

Effective treatments for anxiety include therapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy), medication, lifestyle changes, and mindfulness practices.

When should someone seek professional help for anxiety?

Professional help should be sought if anxiety is persistent, overwhelming, and interferes with daily activities or if there are symptoms of panic attacks or other severe mental health issues.