I’ve suffered from anxiety attacks since I was about seventeen.
Starting in college, it got bad enough that I stopped eating lunch in the open canteen and instead opted to hide in the bathroom until the lunch break was over.
At the time, I didn’t know that I was suffering from anxiety. I just knew that I was so scared of being in public that I had to run and hide until the moment passed.
Though I was able to overcome this particular anxiety after a few months, I still suffered from anxiety attacks with an alarming frequency for many years.
Since I never admitted to myself that there was something wrong, I never looked into it any further. It was only when I began my journey of self-improvement that I began to research what causes anxiety attacks.
Reading about other sufferers gave me some insight into what I was dealing with. Soon I had a pretty good idea about what causes anxiety attacks and was able to put in the work to overcome my anxiety.
Truth be told, I still get anxiety attacks and, whilst they can be awful experiences, I know how to properly cope with them.
Most importantly, I know when I suffer from an anxiety attack that something in my life is out of balance and needs fixing.
Anxiety attacks can be caused by a number of things including medication, trauma and even drugs or alcohol. In fact, one of the best things I did to reduce my anxiety was to cut out alcohol.
In this post, I will explain what are some of the most common causes of anxiety attacks.
By knowing what your triggers are, it will make it easier in the future to cope with your anxiety.
What Are Anxiety Attacks?
Anxiety attacks are sudden, unexpected and terrifying.
Shortness of breath and heart palpitations followed by chest pain and a feeling of doom. These are the main symptoms of an anxiety attack (also known as a panic attack). It can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes.
This sense of intense anxiety, dread and terror can often occur multiple times over the course of the day, week, month or year.
I have known many people who have never had an anxiety attack. I’ve also known people who have them several times a day.
At my worst, I was having anxiety attacks a few times a day.
During a panic attack, it’s not unusual to believe that there is something seriously wrong with you. With your heart beating so hard and being unable to catch your breath, it can be a truly terrifying experience.
I remember one particular anxiety attack where I called my Mum, genuinely believing that I was about to collapse from some sort of heart problem.
It should go without saying, but if you are suffering from anxiety attacks at that level then seeking medical advice is highly advised. Alternatively, you could speak to a registered counsellor or therapist.
What Causes Anxiety Attacks?
Any number of things can cause anxiety attacks and this will by no means be a comprehensive list. Instead, this is a list of the most common causes of anxiety attacks.
It is also a list of triggers which can be overcome given enough self-improvement work either with a coach or therapist.
Before I continue, let me just say one thing.
Everyone’s anxiety is different. What triggers an anxiety attack in you will not necessarily be the same as what triggers one in someone else.
Whilst it can be useful to compare notes with other anxiety sufferers, try to focus mainly on what your personal causes and triggers are.
This is one of the major causes of anxiety.
It can come from work-related stress, relationship stress or even stress about being stressed.
Since stress can come from almost every area in your life, it makes it a difficult beast to handle. Difficult, but not impossible.
Once I identified my major areas of stress in my life, I was able to work through each one. Things like work pressure, exam deadlines and relationship issues are some pretty common stressors.
Limiting the amount of negative stress in your life can do wonders for your anxiety. You don’t have to be perfect, but making a good start will soon begin to bring your feelings of anxiety down.
Being in debt, not having enough money to cover bills or just not having enough to live the life you want to live can all be causes of anxiety in your life.
I used to get particularly bad anxiety attacks the closer I got to £0 in my bank account. It can be a horrible feeling. You can very easily begin to feel powerless in the face of what can be mounting financial responsibilities.
Overcoming financial anxiety is by no means an easy task. Instead, it’s a journey during which you slowly chip away until you are free. It can take weeks, months or even years but rest assured that you can be free of it.
If you are suffering from financial difficulties, try and seek some kind of help. There are numerous advice services and helplines that can assist you with getting back on your feet.
Don’t let this type of anxiety rule your life, especially when you can be free. Get some help and start working on your financial situation and related anxiety sooner rather than later.
Major Life Events
But, it’s not just giving your best man’s speech or a work presentation which can cause anxiety. Any number of major life events can cause anxiety attacks:
- Sporting Events
- Starting A New Hobby
There are so many major life events which could cause you to feel anxious.
In the face of this, it may seem that there is very little that you can do to overcome anxiety attacks. After all, if almost anything can be a trigger then what can you do, right?
A Quick, Easy Tool for Overcoming Anxiety Attacks
The simple answer to the question I ended the last section with is “nothing!”
There is very little that can be done to prevent anxiety entirely in your life – without serious medication or complex brain surgery.
Don’t let that get you down though.
The truth is, everyone gets anxious at some point in their lives and may even suffer from anxiety attacks. So, how do we continue to live in the face of that?
The answer: mindfully.
By accepting that anxiety is a part of being human, you can begin to reassert control over your life.
The next time you start to feel anxious or begin to suffer from an anxiety attack, try and locate the feeling of anxiety in your body. If you can’t find the location, then just pay attention to the symptoms in your body.
Listen to those feelings, sensations and experiences. You don’t have to try and change them. Observe them without judgement, thinking of them as neither good nor bad. Try and see your anxiety as something which just happens.
In the same way that sometimes it rains or there is traffic on the road, anxiety is just another life event.
Don’t see it as this big, scary monster lurking in your mind. It’s just a shadow which will fade if you shine enough light on it.
Give it a try next time you feel anxious. You might not feel a massive difference the first time, but I promise you will find it easier to cope with anxiety the more you practice it.
Now you should have a good idea of what causes anxiety attacks as well as a new tool for overcoming anxiety.
As always, remember to be compassionate towards yourself. It’s OK to be anxious and afraid sometimes. It’s a natural part of life which can become meaningful once you place mindful attention on it.